Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m originally from Venezuela but my parents and I had to leave the country due to the political situation there. We made Atlanta, GA our second home 14 years ago. I think this experience of starting over again truly influenced me and changed me at a very young age. At 14, I realized that nothing was permanent and that material things were not so important, it’s all about the experiences and memories you make with others that make life worthwhile.
My love for traveling and development work led me to SE Asia where I lived and worked for over two years. This experience opened my eyes to many things and allowed me to learn about new cultures and traditions. It also gave me the opportunity to meet some truly exceptional women artisans who are the living example of resilience and strength. I wanted to work on a project that involved things that I loved while finding a way to giveback to women and their communities. That is how The World’s Corner started and it’s our mission to help preserve traditions while creating opportunities for women artisans to sell their products and share their stories.
What exactly is The World’s Corner?
The World’s Corner is a social enterprise supporting women artisans from ethnic minority groups living in SE Asia and Central America. We have an online store and blog offering handmade products. We purchase goods directly from the artisans and then send an additional percentage to them when their entire collection is sold.
What inspired you to start The World’s Corner?
While living in Vietnam, I met a few women artisans who would sell their traditional crafts in order to bring extra income to support their families. Most of them work full time at factories or local farms, take care of their household and then would sell their products to tourists during their free time. These products are made with natural materials and they represent their culture and their history. I fell in love with the stories and learning about what each product, each pattern and material meant. Although, I was still living in SE Asia when I launched The World’s Corner, I knew I could help sell and share the stories of the artisans with other audiences and reach new markets for them. I want people to know that there are stories behind the things we buy, there are people who struggle to make these things and we should learn to appreciate the process.
How did you come up with the name?
I wanted to find a name that represented the fact that we are more than just an online store, there are several different components to this business and so the name The World’s Corner fit because you can find a little bit of everything in one place.
You give 15% back to the artisans; can you tell us about that?
The idea was to offer the artisans we work with more opportunities for them to have an extra set of income. Additionally, the fact that we return a percentage allows us to continue our relationships with them. This was a big motivation for me, I didn’t want to be someone who would come once to buy their products and have no connection in the future. I don’t see the value in this. Our hope is that as The World’s Corner continues to grow, our commitment to our artisans grows too. We want to develop projects to support the communities where our artisans live and that is only possible if we continue to invest in our relationship with them.
Is there a favorite product?
I have to admit, I LOVE all of them! I think they’re made so beautifully and they represent more than just what they are and that makes them even more valuable to me.
What is your favorite part about running The World’s Corner?
I love the fact that it combines so many of the things I love to do: photography, learning about other cultures, connecting with people, social media, storytelling and so much more. We’ve been doing at least 1 or 2 markets a month here in Atlanta, and I truly enjoy talking about our story and our artisans to others. I especially love to hear from people who have traveled to Vietnam or Cambodia and share their experiences with me.
What is your least favorite part about running The World’s Corner?
Nothing comes to mind, I really enjoy working on this project and I think the entrepreneurial journey is very rewarding on a personal and professional level.
How do you spread the word about your company?
Mainly through social media and markets and events in Atlanta. We’re planning to participate in other markets in other cities in the USA next year.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
I would say to take everything as a learning experience, even what we consider failure. You only fail if you don’t take the time to reflect and learn from it. Also, be proactive and search for resources and opportunities within your community. I met some of our artisans through connections I made at co-working spaces, found markets and other opportunities via social media or a simple Google search. The resources are there, you just need to search for them.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho when I was 11 years old and still living in Venezuela, this quote stuck with me and motivates me when I feel down. If you want something, ask for it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I would like to say that when I launched The World’s Corner, I was only working with one group of women artisans from Vietnam. We are now working with 5 different cooperatives and independent artisans, all coming from different ethnic groups.