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Meet Maria Salazar of Arawayuu in Manhattan Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Salazar.

Maria, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story started about nine years ago, when I came for school to California from Neiva, Huila, a south-central city in Colombia and realized how passionate I was to represent my Colombian culture. Especially, I had a desire to change the narrative around its history and culture, which inspired me to create Arawayuu, a charitable fashion brand born in San Diego and crafted by the Wayuu (“Wah-you”) tribe in La Guajira, Colombia. Arawayuu offers vibrant Mochila bags and clutches handwoven by our Wayuu artisans as well as leather chokers and tassel earrings that I design myself.

This journey began when I came across one of my life passions: empowering female artisans and representing our Colombian artisans. About two years ago, I started nurturing my passion for entrepreneurship through these artisans by understanding their stories, values, and traditions. Wherever I go, I want to reinforce my roots and represent my Latin culture, almost like an ambassador. SoCal has become that place I also call home and I want to bring the best of both worlds through Arawayuu. I’m proud to see this reality came true last year!

Additionally, to being Arawayuu’s Founder and Creative Designer, I’m also a Bilingual Digital Strategist & Publicist helping leverage businesses and brands in the technology, lifestyle, food and hospitality industry. I’m currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Information Technology and as it is today, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with other powerful brands and inspiring people. They have made this journey even better with all their advice, help and support. I would not be where I am today if it would not be for the Arawayuu community, my family, closest friends, and my partner.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
More than struggles, I think of the solutions and valuable lessons I’ve come across this journey! I’m a huge believer in manifestation and how the universe conspires in your favor. I also believe that nothing in life comes easy, everything takes time, commitment, consistency, and patience. This is a big part of trusting the process and it can be easy to lose motivation when you think of your business struggles. Being an entrepreneur can feel like being on a rollercoaster and this isn’t new for anyone, especially when some doors close. Fortunately, it is in my personality to find new solutions and stay motivated. I’m determined, go-getter and very outgoing, always looking for opportunities to grow on this journey.

When there’s a challenge in my personal life, business or career, I find a lesson out of each experience and here are my four biggest takeaways that I would love to share with our LA Voyager readers: be brave and show up for yourself and others; know your audience and find a way to connect with them and be remembered; it’s not about working harder, but working smarter; lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help; after all, the least they can say is “No.”

My extra bonus – Connect, connect and connect! Get out of your comfort zones and reach out to people. This is another way to show up for yourself and others. You never know the amazing opportunities or solutions that someone can offer you or you can offer them in return. Never doubt the power of networking and building relationships that can turn into long-lasting friendships or partnerships!

Arawayuu – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Arawayuu is more than a business or a company for me, it’s a community and brand with a purpose to support each other. I’m proud of developing Arawayuu’s socially conscious concept after realizing a widespread lack of ethical fashion, a growing tendency that has pushed brands across the globe to change sourcing and production processes in recent years. I want to redefine ethical fashion and invite you to shop with a purpose as we join the slow fashion movement.

Arawayuu, whose name is inspired by our Wayuu (“Wah-you”) artisans who make every bag by hand with organic cotton, encourages ethnic fashion through fair trade while embracing boho-chic styles. The intricate bag designs are traditional to the area and feature tapestry crochet patterns, geometric compositions, and pineapple imagery, as reflected in Arawayuu’s logo. The brand’s Mochila bags represent a particular form of expression for these tribeswomen; their labor-intensive weaving process can take more than 160 hours and uses ancient crochet techniques passed down through generations. Arawayuu showcases each individual artisan’s life story and cultural traditions through its bags’ motifs; no one ever wears the same mochila bag, as no weaver’s story is ever the same.

The bold color palette expressed in our upcoming Summer-Spring 2020 collection is inspired by California’s bohemian beach vibe and features a colorful twist and trending neon colors including lime green, blinding yellow, hot pink and flame orange. Standout items include the Wayuu Clutch, Wayuu Mochila Bags, Stacked Tassel Earrings, Leather Chokers!

And we’re super thrilled to share our latest addition to our SS20 collection launching end of spring for all of our yogi lovers and beachgoers: Arawayuu’s adjustable Yoga Mat Straps! We’re bringing different color options from vibrant to neutral tones with an adjustable hook-and-loop closure. A big sneak peek: The colorful fabric is 100% organic cotton and thick enough that it won’t dig into your shoulder (how cool is that!?)

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’m proud of being where I am today, being able to create a community through our social impact is one of my most significant moments. One of my most rewarding moments is seeing happy clients feeling empowered to empower our artisans. Another rewarding moment is the opportunity to leverage other businesses and brands with my communications and media relations skills. Whether it helped to promote an event or raising brand awareness, it’s a rewarding moment helping others succeed and get where they want to be.

I’m thankful that I’m able to help others, which gives me clarity in my career with Arawayuu. Like I’ve said earlier, I believe that it’s not about working harder but working smarter and that it is possible to dream bigger and make powerful connections along the way. I would say one of my next proudest moments in my career would be Arawayuu’s next product launch coming to this end of spring. Because I never thought we’d come this far and I can’t wait to see our audience’s final reaction. Let’s not forget that every milestone attained deserves praise to our Arawayuu supporters, and, most importantly, to our talented artisans. I can’t thank everyone enough for making this journey even better with all their advice, help and support.

Pricing:

  • Arawayuu Wayuu Mochila Bag – $85.00
  • Arawayuu Wayuu Clutch Bag – $65.00
  • Arawayuu Adjustable Yoga Mat Strap – $42.99
  • Arawayuu Casuu White Mochila Bag – $80.00
  • Arawayuu Stacked Lavender Tassel Earrings – $32.00 (available in different colors)
  • Wayuu Sandals – $45
  • Arawayuu Mini Tassel Earrings – $25.00 (available in different colors)
  • Arawayuu Leather Choker – $35.00 (available in different colors)

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Photo Credits to Grace J. Photography, https://shotsbygracej.wixsite.com/home, Vianca de la Parra Photography https://www.viancadlp.com/, GC Visuals Photography and other media by Gabriela C. https://www.visualsgc.com/, Bronwyn Huddleson Photography – www.bronwynhuddleson.com

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