For businesses, there are many questions up in the air right now. In the words of our own Chiller-in-Chief, Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, even we had to “Pivot!!” our direction to keep up with the times. To spread the positivity and help to others, Cyndi partnered with Dell and the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurship Network (DWEN) to support five small, female-lead businesses in the form of mentorship and even a Dell #XPS 13 inch laptop from Dell, because we’re #inthistogether.
Below, read our interview with the next winner in the series. Jennifer Bolanos is the founder of Vía Raíz, a shop redefining the phrase “Made in Mexico” that connects you with the best Mexican craftsman through decor and home goods. This brand new mom speaks to the importance of sharing Mexican culture (she founded this almost directly after the 2016 election) and connecting with your culture below.
Caffeine of choice? Matcha
Dream job as a kid? Ballerina
One thing you NEED in the morning? To slow down. I love not rushing through breakfast.
One thing you NEED to fall asleep? Device-free an 1hr before bed.
Favorite way to kill time in quarantine? Spending quality time with my new baby.
Go-to snack? Cucumbers and jicama with salt, lime, and chile.
One thing you wish you told your younger self? Let go of perfectionism in all aspects of life.
What gap in the market do you find yourself filling?
When it comes to artisan-made wares, rarely do you find a brand/company whose founder represents the country/region where the pieces are made. In an industry where the West Elms & Pottery Barns reign, there isn’t a home decor brand that genuinely takes into consideration the Latinx consumer, a demographic that makes up 18% of the U.S. population. Our homes are a reflection of who we are so as a Latina, and as my brand’s ideal customer, it’s so important to be able to bring a piece of my culture and heritage into my home.
What support did you or did you not get from loved ones? What did that teach you?
I feel so fortunate that my husband was my #1 supporter from the very beginning and continues to be. He saw the potential from the very start and has never hesitated to help me take the necessary steps to continue to grow my business. Friends and family were my first customers and helped bring awareness to Vía Raíz through word of mouth. For any small business, just getting started, the support of friends and family is critical both emotionally and financially. Don’t hesitate asking them for their help.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
One of the biggest challenges for Vía Raíz, from the very beginning, has been the cost of shipping. More often than not, the cost of shipping exceeds the cost of my order. Due to the smaller size of my inventory orders, shipping via pallets or freight hasn’t really been an option.
What’s your favorite part of working for yourself?
While having complete control of my schedule is one of my favorite parts of working for myself, being able to achieve success on my own terms is the most satisfying.
What does sharing Mexican culture with your consumers mean to you?
From Vía Raíz’s early concept stage, sharing Mexican culture was so important to the brand. My vision, from the very beginning, is to reframe what it means to be made in Mexico. Having launched Vía Raíz a few days after Trump came into office, it became even more critical to honor my Mexican roots, celebrate the beauty of my culture, and share a different narrative.
Why is it important to have an outlet like this to share culture?
a. Crafts represent Mexico’s intangible cultural heritage. By highlighting and showcasing the country’s incredible craftsmanship, in a way that elevates it and brings new value, allows people to have a newfound appreciation for the pieces, process, artisans, and traditions.
What is your favorite part of working so closely with a variety of designers and craftspeople?
One of the aspects I’ve truly appreciated is seeing the future of Mexican craftsmanship through the vision of the designers I collaborate with and building a stronger connection and understanding of my culture through the beautiful traditions of Mexico’s crafts and artisans.