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Meet Emily Gutierrez of Emiluna in Alhambra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Gutierrez.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Emily. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Our parents are both from a small town in Nayarit, Mexico. We grew up visiting at every opportunity. Every Spring, Summer and Christmas break was spent with family in Nayarit. It was our home away from home. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are all there so we visited as often as possible. We loved it! It’s such a difference way of life and such a change of pace. As I got older, I really began to appreciate the handcrafted work and art that came from the people of Mexico. I loved going to the mercado and shopping for huaraches, morralitos and handmade jewelry. I especially fell hard for the bold and colorful beaded designs of the Indigenous Huichol tribe. I began to collect them at every trip spending sometimes hundreds of dollars just on my personal collection.

Soon family and friends began to ask about my colorful jewelry and I began to bring back curated pieces for them. For me, it was something I really enjoyed and made me feel proud. Wearing my culture is something that makes me feel closer to my roots and makes me feel so good to carry a piece of it with me to remind me of where I came from. I soon discovered that this was also the case for many of our friends and family but unfortunately they did not have the same access as I did. For some, they were not in a financial position to travel to their motherland and others were unable to due to their immigration status. We were able to bring them a little piece of their home that they could wear and feel proud of.

From there, it slowly grew and at some point we even branched out. I discovered and fell in love with huipil handbags made in Guatemala from repurposed huipiles. So we reached out to artisans in Guatemala and began a partnership with them as well. We also added handwoven camera straps that were once used as belts and they quickly became best sellers. My sister who’s a graphic designer then came on board to help build a website, design business cards and do photography and editing. She was a tremendous help in getting Emiluna off the ground. Fortunately for her but unfortunately for me, she now has a full-time job that can be pretty demanding so she’s taken a step back from Emiluna. She still comes in from time to time to help me with some of the more technical issues. I’ve learned a lot from her and I continue to do so everyday. Slowly, I hope to be able to expand what I do. I would love to continue to grow and add more crafts from other parts of Latin America and eventually from all over the world.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been so many throughout the years but I was fortunate to have people around me to help. I knew nothing about running a business. My sister has been a tremendous help. She’s a graphic designer and with her experience in the fashion industry and her connections, she’s helped me get through a lot of those hurdles. I’m always learning. For a while, it seemed like all I did was attend business workshops and networking events. My biggest struggle now is managing my time and balancing my work with family life. It’s really hard when you’re married with three kids to budget your time. There’s no clocking out so it feels like you’re always on sometimes.

Emiluna – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our focus is to share our love of culture and their beautiful art and traditions. We curate and design pieces you can incorporate in your everyday life. From simple to bold, we want you to be able to feel good about what you wear and look good in it too. When you purchase from us, you’re not only helping a small business but you’re helping provide sustainable work for the artisans we partner with. We do not ever haggle with our artisans and pay them a fair wage for their craft and we’re very proud of that.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is happiness. Loving what you do. While money is important, it isn’t everything. I use to make more money when I worked a 9 to 5 in the corporate world but I definitely did not feel successful or happy in what I was doing. Now, I make less because we’re still a small growing business but I am definitely happier than I was working my previous job. I didn’t set out to be a business owner, it sort of just happened that way. I was working my previous job when I was laid off. I had already been selling on Poshmark, Facebook groups and other platforms as a side hustle so when I lost my job, my side hustle became my full-time job. It was a blessing in disguise. I feel more accomplished now than I did then. I’m in a better place mentally and emotionally. I have the time and energy that I didn’t have before. I can be there if and when my kids need me. You can’t put a price on that. While I’m hesitant to label myself successful because I’m still working towards certain goals, I do feel I’m moving towards success. It’s not about speed but it’s about direction and I think I’m moving in the right direction. I’m focusing on progress. Every small accomplishment and milestone brings me happiness. With every goal met, I am succeeding and THAT is what I focus on.

Pricing:

  • Jewelry $10-$75
  • Phone grips $10-$13
  • Phone cases $20-$35
  • Camera/bag straps $65-$75
  • Handbags $50-$300

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Elvira A. Contreras, Vanessa Gonzalez, Steve Salazar, Erika Evro, Jocelyn Jiménez

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