On the eve of the most expected new year, 2021, we wanted to share with you all reflections and a brief conversation with Julián, Luis, and Manuel, the three founding brothers from Lolo. Overall we cannot help but to be thankful to you all for bringing so much light into our lives and for helping us in our efforts to support artisanal communities.
Although this was a long time thought-of project, Luis, Julián, and Manuel (with the help of their mother, Linda) brought Lolo to life from thin air in the pandemic by partnering with talented artisans who created new products for these new times. Like this, it was possible to establish Lolo to what it is today and create new hopes for the future. The way in which Lolo works is by Julián, the eldest of the three, is in charge of purchasing products and directly speaking with artisans. Luis is then in charge of our warehouse, he ensures our fast shipping times are always kept. Lastly, Manuel, the youngest, makes sure all processes run smoothly and that you all are satisfied with your order. Thus, the three of them as well as everyone in the Lolo team try our best to ensure you are happy with your experience. If you would like to learn more about Lolo, we have a section dedicated to our story here or to our trade practices and philosophies here.
Here are, then, five questions and the answers each of them had to share, including a final message for everyone who has shown their incredible support.
What Has Been Your Favorite Part of 2020?
My son’s birth was my favorite part of the year. We were at the peak of the pandemic and we had our son with all health security measures and it all went well, we were able to go in and leave the hospital on July 13th, which was the middle of the pandemic.
To be able to carry out this project that we have been working on over the years. We were able to develop a platform that allows many artisans and artisan communities in Mexico to sell their incredible pieces (especially as hard as it has been during the pandemic) while, at the same time, facilitates access to many people in the US and around the world to beautiful products that, besides keeping them safe, makes them all feel a little bit closer to Mexico.
Also, being able to learn from the artisans we partner with was a huge honor and it helped me grow in different ways. I learned to see things differently starting from the way we do business, the way in which we spend our money, to the cultural significance behind each product. This, for me, was something that I always felt interest in and Lolo opened the door for me to be able to continue my learning process.
Lolo as a project because it was something totally unplanned, to have gotten together with the right partners for a project that we never imagined would have such a reach… We never imagined we would reach over 40K costumers.
Leaving my comfort zone because of the pandemic and execute this project with lots of dedication and love.
One of my favorite parts of this year was to have supported so many communities by providing them with a platform to offer their products. Knowing that the artisans would support each other within their own community by creating a community kitchen as they were the only ones in their town generating income was incredible. We started working with artisans who did not sell face masks or even knew how to make them but necessity pushed them to “innovate” so they applied their knowledge to create a piece that they did not considered and that, in turn, led them to be able to bring food to their own, their family, and their community’s table.
Which Was the Most Difficult Part of 2020?
To witness the drastic changes we all had to make by changing our daily lives and having to take care of each other so as not to get sick. To watch our close ones who got sick or that passed away in the blink of an eye. It was difficult to know that there was no cure and that we did not know what would happen to us if we got sick; I kept thinking that our days were numbered and one shouldn’t invest in the future because if you got it, it was possible that you would not make it. It saddened me because I have many, many, many plans with my children y may projects and it would be sad to pass without being able to see these plan happen as well as to see my children grow.
It was also difficult because we did not know if we were ever going to be able to go back to the lives we had before or if we will ever be able to call “normal” to what we once knew. Maybe y this is our new normal and we will have to learn to live with this virus forever.
The uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen daily and witnessing so much suffering of my own and others’ loved ones. Also, being forced to close a family business that, in my thirty years, had never closed for even a day and which represented the loss of jobs for many people and families.
The pandemic is not over yet. Even with the vaccine we will have to continue to take care of each other with face mask until it is safer and that does not seem to be so soon. The hardest part that still continues is the “uncertainty” of knowing when we will go back to how we were!!! I never imagined that so many months would pass as they have, I thought this would be a short term situation.
It is also though knowing that there are artisans that are struggling because of the lack of demand on their products, especially for masks. I hope they continue to innovate and that we are lucky enough to offer their products first.
What Is Your Vision for Lolo in 2021?
To continue to be a place where we work alongside artisans instead of purchasing from resellers. To have merchandise that is directly sourced from the hands of talented artisans who achieve the highest quality to be able to show the Mexico that we all know and that is beautiful.
To continue working to expand our mercadito with more products and reaching more corners around the world. With this, I wish to both offer more beauties form Mexico as well as to be able to allow all to witness them and their communities; I know there is sooo much that we are not showing and sometimes wish we could reflect what we see with every single artisans and their creations. I would also like to be able to bring Lolo to a physical store and continue to interact more with costumers.
My role in Lolo is purchasing, so I hope to continue to innovate with products, to find new products with artisans that work with the highest quality standards, and to bring into Lolo products that reflect LO BIEN HECHO EN MEXICO!!
To offer different products in a variety of categories and continuously innovate and promote new articles.
Through Lolo and the products offered here I know we will continue to help entire communities and their families to have a higher reach to sell their products.
Which Is Your Favorite Product from Lolo and Why?
Tlaxcala face mask without a doubt because I like the colors and figures. I liked one in particular that we do not carry anymore that was the teal with orange flowers, but all from Tlaxcala, of course, I like a lot.
Hand Painted Parota Kithen Tortilleros. I love it because it has different elements that balance just right and perfectly represent the Mexico that I know: high-quality materials, patiently and beautifully hand-painted with dedication and love, the agave that is so representative of our culture.
Every artisan we work with, every product category has a story behind it worthy of telling; from how we met the artisan, to how we began to work together, or that such and such problem happened so that we were able to get the product into our hands here in our Texas warehouse.
If there is a product that I would like to mention is the OAXACA Face Mask.
We have sold over 35 thousand masks from this artisanal community!!! This is crazy…
What’s interesting is what’s behind this. First we found this supplier on a trip my brother Manuel took when contemplating places to hold his wedding in Oaxaca, they bought a few blouses at that time and when we started searching for artisanal face masks we thought of them and how they could adapt their embroidery into face coverings.
It is worth noting that their work is 100% artisanal; they do not use machines from the threads that are tinted with natural techniques.
We started with a small capacity from the artisan, “La maestra”, of 300 pieces every 10 days. When we launched these masks the demand was excessive, we were collapsing, we even reached a point where customers had to “pre-order” their masks with a delivery date of over 45 days after they placed their order.
From this, La maestra increased from 300 pieces every 10 days to 1,300 pieces every 3 days creating a total of 2,600 masks every week… For this La maestra partnered with hundreds of women from her community to embroider masks. This level of demand for their products lasted for about three months.
What I was personally left with was that a while after this, I learned from comments of other suppliers from the same and other neighboring communities that La maestra helped her community a lot by sharing food with everyone (mostly children and elders) every day for free!! When people were struggling to eat because of the lack of jobs, she and her team were working to feed the entire town. (That story can be found here)
This is proof to show that every purchase made from our clients helped a lot of people! La Maestra never told me this, I heard it from others who admire the work and support that came from her.
Final Thoughts or Messages?
I have a message for all customers.
I am thankful because without you Lolo would not be the business we are today. This was made after the demand from our products, and you all were the ones who taught us quality standards, to fulfill demands, to improve our delivery times and to improve our costumer service. The result of what we are is what you have pushed us to be, especially when looking back to the beginning where we started locked up in a small room sending packages giving our best day by day. I feel that we should be thanking our costumers who took the time to write suggestions about our face masks as well as the complaints we receive, we take these very seriously and are what helps us be better. We read all your suggestions and go back to our business with these ideas, understanding that we are here to leave you all feeling happy with your purchase. Thank you for always reading our mailings, our blogs, our messages, and for following us on social media, we look forward to continue to read more from you!
I feel beyond grateful every day to have the opportunity to be a part of Lolo and have gained the trust and preference of all our costumers. Without your support and love, cariño, we would not have achieved anything. Even though the reason behind the demand for face masks is sad, I feel thankful to be a part of this project that means the world to our family but also to the artisans who were able to maintain a job during the pandemic. It has been incredible to learn that the very own artisans have actively used their earnings to improve the conditions in which they live in, and to know that instead of us interfering with their communities, they have used this money towards what they know is lacking such as community kitchens, neutering campaigns, or opening up bigger workshops to increase their earnings, especially as they were among the very few who kept their income during these difficult past months. Even more, to witness how artisans would share income with the community was a big learning for me and it also translate into something we would like to replicate at Lolo where we serve as a bridge between artisan communities and clients and so that we can all grow together.
To express my gratitude to all costumers and supporters of Lolo who belong to this big family, to thank you on behalf of all artisans that I speak with after being in purchasing, they do thank you for acquiring their products. All of you did helped them get past difficult times during the pandemic and they really value this, Lolo, and all who support us.
Lolo is not here only during the pandemic, Lolo is here for long!! Innovating with products will be how we will move forward during this post-face mask era.
"Hay mucho Lolo para rato".
“See you soon”