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Meet Lisset Verde of Wuitusu in Hollywood and Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisset Verde.

Lisset, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Two years ago, I fell in love with a Wayuu hat and bag I saw online. They were too expensive for me, so I started researching about them, and realized that Wayuu is the original name of a tribe that lives between Colombia and Venezuela (my birth country), which I knew in Spanish as Guajiros. At the time, I was working as an English instructor, and one of my students from Colombia told me she had friends who were living very close to the ancient Wayuu land in Colombia. I got in touch with them and asked them to buy me one hat and one bag. I figured if I loved them that much, other people would love them, too. And I did. So next, I ordered 13 bags and 13 hats and started selling them among friends. And then I created a company and started attending the Melrose Trading Post Market every Sunday. In September of 2018 I was laid off so I opened a cart at a local mall during the holiday season.

In April 2019, I opened a store at Santa Monica Place and, in October 2019, a second one in Hollywood and Highland mall. My business idea was to offer a high quality, unique, handmade product at a reasonable price in order to make the product more affordable to more people. By doing so, I could offer my Wayuu partners a constant financial entry. As soon as I opened the first store, we partnered with Helping Children in Venezuela, a Los Angeles-based organization that donates medicine, food, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and toys to susceptible communities in Venezuela. Wuitusu became a donation center, and we also donated financially and participated in fundraisings where we donated 50% of what we sold.

According to our projections, we were going to cover costs and make a profit in summer 2020, and then Covid-19 hit. Our stores were closed for three months, and once we opened foot traffic was never the same as pre-COVID-19 times. We spent the months we were closed strengthening our online store www.wuitusu.com, which has become our third “location.” I see Wuitusu as the place to buy the perfect gift (for you or others): unique, meaningful, and beneficial to other people when you buy it.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have encountered the usual problems entrepreneurs encounter: procurement, logistics, etc., but Covid-19 has been the greatest struggle so far. When it hit, we lost 90% of our sales. Then, our stores were closed for an extended period of time, but we still had expenses to cover. So we took the time we were closed to create an online presence with www.wuitusu.com and our media channels. It has certainly been a learning-on-the-fly process, and we’re still learning.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Wuitusu – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in Wayuu wearables. We are a bridge between our Wayuu partners and our customers in the USA and abroad. I am most proud of presenting Wayuu crafts in an elevated manner while at the same time both preserving the Wayuu culture and teaching our customers about it. I am also proud of our social entrepreneurship. What sets us apart from others is that we are a full store committed to selling Wayuu wares and highlighting the meaning and cultural importance of these items.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
First and foremost, to keep the stores afloat while riding this Covid-19 wave. I would like to become the place to go to purchase special gifts for special occasions. Eventually, when the time is right, I would like to use the stores for workshops, small concerts, recitals, and art exhibits related to the Wayuu culture.

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