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Meet Gabriela Marquette of Rikita Chic

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriela Marquette.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hola! My name is Gabriela Marquette & I’m the Founder of Rikita Chic, a small fashion business in Los Angeles. I think I have always been fascinated with fashion design & photography combining traditional and modern cultures. After graduating from UAG Mexico, I practiced merchandizing for my family’s store selling handmade goods from my home-state, Chiapas, MEX.

Then at age 21, I opened my 1st business: an artisanal boutique with a modern twist at an international cruise port. To expand my English business skills, I attended a work-exchange program in Los Angeles and unexpectedly met my future husband! Since 2015, he and I have traveled back and forth often to nurture connections between my Mexican family and my favorite Mayan artisans. I love creating opportunities to modernize the artistry of my relatively unknown indigenous neighbors so I am now exploring exciting new territory with them. My new brand, Rikita Chic (est. 2016), uses online retail and wholesale to share the rich heritage of Mayan communities with a fashion flare for the global market.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Following my passion as an entrepreneur has been very fun but it has not been easy! Communication, logistics & quality control are frequent challenges for our small family business. Early on, I was confident that traditional jewelry & textiles could be remixed as a modern fashion for a younger demographic but many people didn’t understand. I needed a visual medium to help communicate my design & styling ideas so I started photographing “looks” as a necessity. I was not a trained photographer so that was a steep learning curve! On Logistics, my product supply involves international travel to undeveloped mountain regions and building trust with indigenous communities. Synchronizing with my makers to create & ship new products from villages to cities would be impossible without the help of my family & modern technology. And finally, quality control is another constant focus with handmade products from remote areas.

I always look for opportunities to use higher quality materials & I personally inspect new products. A few years ago my parents helped me propose new designs and quality standards with artisans who are very traditional, methodical and sometimes resistant to new concepts. Implementing changes that benefit makers and customers while respecting traditional artistry is very important to my team. Looking back on my adventures, I think I appreciate challenges more than most people because I remind myself that I’m always improving my skills.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Rikita Chic – what should we know?
As the Founder of Rikita Chic, I design and curate collections of trendy, handmade fashion accessories from indigenous artisans in Chiapas, Mexico. My family business focuses on sharing one-of-a-kind pieces honoring centuries-old Mayan techniques. We are known for using our fashion-forward instincts to set trends in our market. I love to create connections between makers and customers who value high quality & culture. I am most proud of our support for the artisans and our unique collaborative designs. We firmly believe in fair pay & ethical trade because no fashion brand can survive without a team of talented craftspeople behind them. What makes us unique is our intimate knowledge of the processes through our close connections with Mayan communities. My father is from a small Mexican village with over 60% Mayan population and his family has supported indigenous entrepreneurs for three generations. Blending that tradition with my passion is truly an honor!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
As a young girl, I was constantly inspired by my mother’s natural business sense and my father’s creativity – even outside of their professions. My parents, Gabriel & Lourdes, also always taught us to appreciate cultural diversity and help those in need. My home state of Chiapas is unique in Mexico because 1/3 of the population are Mayan descendants and the state has the highest poverty rate in the country. I was fortunate to grow up around these indigenous communities with ancient traditions and colorful textiles. Today, I am passionate about helping the less fortunate – especially artisans in my historic home state. It takes a village, of course, and my husband has been a big help with English and business support day-to-day. (BTW This article was written by him too!)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
1.Frankof Photo
2.Aaron Marquette
3.Gabriela Marquette

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