Tag Archives: ay mujer

{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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New: Papel Picado DIY Kits

1 Apr

Ay Mujer Papel Picado DIY Kits

Now available in our website and in our Etsy shop. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo!

How to assemble papel picado banners

Each kit makes [4] 6-foot banners. It includes a variety of flags in a mix of bright colors. They’re great for any occasion, really. Dia de los muertos altars, fiesta-themed party decorations, or simply for an easy cheery craft project.

Ay Mujer packagingAy Mujer DIY kit instructionsAy Mujer packaging

I had a lot of fun designing the packaging. I wanted them to be something that I would be excited to discover in a boutique or museum gift shop. The labeling, instructions, and informational booklet are all bilingual, (English,Spanish). The paper is 100% recycled. I included our palomitas (doves) as a keepable, pop-out element. I can’t wait to see where people use these!

I’ll build on this concept with more themed banners. For now, I’m happy to be able to offer this fun kit at a reasonable price to our crafty fans!

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

16 Mar
Image

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.

Amor for Zorro, Geocaching and the Long Beach Reads One Book Program

1 Mar

So begins another adventure, as adventures often do, with a friendly email and bit of luck…

I was contacted by the organizer for the Geocaching Challenge in this year’s Long Beach Reads One Book Program held by the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. I get lots of requests for donations to charity and community events, but this message was crazy-friendly and she signed it “Di (Di pronounced in Spanish, not English – Dee, not Die)”.

A woman after my own heart. 

In her words: “Each year they host an event called “Long Beach Reads One Book” (now in its eleventh year). A book is chosen by a committee, and then for roughly a week in March, several activities are scheduled, such as lectures/presentations/discussions, demonstrations, nature walks, etc, etc, etc. In short, this year’s book is Zorro by Isabel Allende…. If you have read the book, then you know that the story has several themes, among them mission life during the early 1800s, rancho life, life in early Los Angeles, relations between the Spanish and the Native Americans in the region, pirates, the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish history/end of the Inquisition, secret societies, etc.”

Awesome. I love Isabel Allende, my mama is a retired librarian, and I’ve listened to the entire unabridged Zorro audiobook, (loved it) a few years ago! So, other than that, the next thing that caught my eye: geocaching. What is that?

Again, in Di’s words: “This year, in addition to the “traditional” types of activities and events, the Foundation is adding GEOCACHING to its lineup, and that’s where I come in. If you have never heard of geocaching, please click here and watch 8 minutes worth of video If you don’t have eight minutes, hopefully you have at least six, in which case watch the first and third videos. My husband and I have been charged with creating the “Geocaching Extravaganza” for this event. In all, we plan to hide anywhere from six to ten caches across the city, to be found by community members, young and old, during the month of March.” 

And so it was that I came to meet Di and I talked myself into cutting over 100 mini papel picado flags for a geocache in a Long Beach Public Library as “loot” for fellow book lovers.

I also scored a couple of tickets for my me & my mama to go see Isabel Allende speak later this month!

These are the flags I made for the Zorro Geocaching challenge.

We settled on a romantic design for the flags as they represent the festive spirit of the residents of El Pueblo de Los Angeles (as depicted in the book), and specifically the marriage of Don Alejandro and Regina (parents of Diego/Zorro). Click here for the Foundation’s webpage for the One Book Geocaching Challenge.

But, when it came down to it, I still wasn’t sure what this whole geocaching business actually was. At Di’s urging, Fernando & I went to the official Geocaching website, signed up for a free membership and did a search for any cache near our home address. We were floored when we saw that the nearest one was less thank 2 blocks away! We excitedly fumbled for our smartphones, found a GPS-enabled geocaching app, and downloaded the free trial. 5 minutes later, we were walking out the front door with our son, Elias, in tow.

Our first geocache! It was a "nano" magnetic, bullet-sized canister that unscrewed to open.

The logbook inside the cache was a strip of paper that unrolled to reveal 34 signatures from previous geocachers.

It takes a special kind of nerd to enjoy the thrill of the hunt for nothing more than bragging rights and a higher tally next to your Geocaching profile name. Turns out, I am one. And, even better, I married one. We are hooked. Elias, however, is skeptical because he’d been secretly hoping for buried treasure.

We are looking forward to finding more caches. It’s a fun and free activity for families (a rare thing these days). Plus, you get to work together as a team. It was Elias who actually found the cache- we were stumped!

One last thing: there is a Geocaching 101 workshop this weekend being held at the library where my flags are hidden. If you are near Long Beach, I urge you to give it a try and please let me know how it goes!

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.

Customer photo: Mi Casa, Airstream trailer banner

12 Oct

A couple of years ago, when I was still a single mom, my daughter Bella, my dad and I took a road trip to Quartzite, Arizona.

A curious and wonderful thing happens in Quartzite. Every Spring, rock collectors, antique dealers and tourists flock to this tiny desert town just inside the California/Arizona border. Overnight, a small city of RV’s, campers and trailers forms. Vendors lay out their wares and peddle everything from depression-era glass to piles of deer antlers to giant African beads. Food trucks offer corn dogs, buffalo burgers, deep fried cheese curds and chili cheese nachos. Definitely not healthy fare, but whatever.

Anyway, my favorite part was the rock vendors. These passionate people hauled boulders (really!) and tons of rocks, gems, fossils and crystals in from around the world. They proudly stood by with a tub of water, eager to show you how to dunk a stone to bring out its true colors. Bella loved it all. It was fascinating to dig through piles of Minnesota pipestone and dunk them one at a time to bring out the flaws. We learned how to search for tiny cracks that would split a stone over time. We also found a few perfect pieces.

I loved the happy, fascinating rock people. Inspired by their friendliness, when I got home I drew my first original pattern that is not based on a traditional papel picado grid.

And, this week, a lovely customer sent me a photo of her sweet  ’57 Cardinal Trailer. She hung the banner at her campsite at a vintage trailer rally. What a cute setup and, seriously, how cool is that?! I want one.

I just love it when I get to see one of my banners ‘in action’. Thank you, dear customer. Happy camping!

This banner is available for purchase here.

Pink Ribbon for the National Museum of Mexican Art

3 Oct

Every day is an adventure. And when you love what you do, your work becomes part of the adventure.

Back in August, I was contacted by a programmer from the National Museum of Mexican Art.  She asked if I’d be interested in making some HOPE banners for an ofrenda they were working on for their Dia de Los Muertos exhibition. She was working with a community group of women in Mexico that wanted to make an altar for Breast Cancer victims, specifically the mother of one of their members.

Originally, I made these little HOPE banners for my Grandma Bessie. She is a breast cancer survivor of 5+ years. She is one tough cookie!

More after the click-through…

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