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{Giveaway} Papel Picado DIY Kits

25 Apr

Spanglish Baby

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo! We’re giving away one of our DIY kits to 5 lucky winners. Hop on over to SpanglishBaby.com to enter the raffle.

While you’re over there, check out their well-written and thoughtful website full of articles about raising a bilingual child. Advice, reassurances on common concerns and tips can be found there, as well!

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Reflections on Costco, self-employment, and a thank you to my Latina sisters

16 Mar
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Hey! That’s me on the table of contents. Click to read the full article online.

The shop was featured in March’s Costco Connection magazine. This was no small thing. It was the first time my work was featured in a national publication (in the U.S.) that wasn’t  specifically for weddings.

Of course, not everybody is a Costco member, yet I was curious to see what kind of response it would get. I am a Costco member. We shop there a couple of times a month along with what seems like at least half of suburbia. Truth is, I don’t love going in their huge warehouse because I always end up spending more than I planned. My dad calls it “Hundreddollarcostco”, one word. Yet, I have a grudging respect for their brand. It keeps me coming back– mostly because I believe that what I’m buying is well-made, a good deal, or higher quality than the regular big box store’s wares. 99% of the time this is true. Therefore, I don’t fight the pull to sit down at the kitchen table and spend a few minutes looking through their coupon booklet and monthly magazine. As with the store, I believe that I’ll come across a great deal or read something unexpectedly informative, interesting and helpful. I was excited to have the shop exposed to people in this positive light.

It also provided a unique opportunity because I figure, like us, most people read the mailing when it first comes out and throw it out after a week. It’s a bubble of new info, invaluable to a small business.

So, 15 days after the article came out, I’m reflecting on what I learned:

  • Costco Connection readers are follow-up kind of people. The deluge of inquiries I received was fast and direct. 
  • They are also kind. Many folks sent a note just to say, “Congratulations. I love your work. Keep it up.” This, I find amazing– that people took time to read the article, visit our website, find & fill out the contact form– just to be nice! 
  • They have good ideas. I’ve been focusing on the wedding market for a few years. Mostly, because there is a built-in industry, making it easier for me to build a focused line of products. Also, because I wanted to avoid being ‘the birthday party lady’. But what I realized is that I’ve been limiting the brand’s reach– not helping it to be focused. Papel picado is not specific to one occasion. I’ve decided to embrace this truth. I’m already working to expand our offerings.

One more insight: I’ve only been doing the social media thing for the company for a few months. We got a lot of new followers after the article came out, especially on Instagram and the ol’ Facebook. Of the new followers, the people that are connecting with our brand through social media are mostly women, the majority of them Latina and/or small business owners.

For the love of God, I don’t know why this surprised me! I mean, I named my company Ay Mujer!. When I thought about this a little more, I realized that it was because my actual buyers are not Latina in the same majority ratio. It’s more like 40/60.  I’m not sure why this is– maybe it’s our prices or maybe it’s because the Latino community is not as present in the indie crafting scene, (our Etsy shop being the brand’s highest-visited site). Or maybe it is another reason that I have yet to learn.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking on this all week and I find that I am so happy. I really am. I feel the support of my sisters deep in my bones. You see, what keeps me going everyday is the vision: the idea that I can build a high-end, artist- run brand that reflects my cultural influences and respect for quality craftsmanship. Somewhere along the way, I unconsciously became fearful that my work was “too Mexican” and that Ay Mujer! would end up marginalized in a kitschy fiesta niche. [Which, if you know me, is dead-wrong because my Spanish is no bueno and my interests are so eclectic that the last thing I am is “too” anything.]

So yeah, I’m happy. Because, although I may have lost sight of it for a while, my vision came though anyhow and it was seen and enjoyed by my fellow Latinas and I’m not the only one who finds it worthy and special.

And that is no small thing.

Press: Destination Weddings Magazine

15 Dec

Lovely bride, Maria, ordered her papel picado banners from my shop. A few months later, she was nice enough to send a thank you note & share her wedding pictures with me!

Harwell Photography shot her beautiful wedding in Puerto Rico. Then, Destination Weddings magazine featured it in the Jan/Feb ’12 issue. And, let me tell you, the photos are gorgeous. I loved looking at the still, quiet images that conveyed the mood and texture of their location. Oh, Puerto Rico!

Those are her parents. They have been together for over 40 years. When I look at this image, my heart is happy and I look forward to the day when Hubby and I are at our children’s weddings.

I thought it was smart of her to use the banners in both the Rehearsal Dinner and the Wedding. More bang for your buck. I’ve worried that the delicate banners would be tricky to take down/rehang for those who aren’t used to their thin floatiness, (think I just made up a new word there). But they pulled it off. Good to know!

Thank you, Maria and Thad, for sharing your special day and congratulations!

This banner is available for purchase here.

Papel Picado Tutorial with a free template

26 Oct

Etsy published a tutorial I wrote in their blog’s ‘How-Tuesday’ column! It is meant to be an introduction to making papel picado using the most-widely available modern tools as we don’t all have access to a blacksmith to make us custom chisels. It coincides with the Dia de los Muertos holiday.

I also included a free [for personal and educational use] template to start you off!

Teachers and grown-ups who like to play (with or without) kids: The template also makes a fun coloring sheet for children. Cut out the colored-in flags and glue them together on a string or yarn to make a printed papel picado style banner. Enjoy!