Today, we would like to spotlight the beautiful and talented people of Oaxaca, Mexico – and those who work tirelessly every day to preserve the culture and legacy of this extraordinary city.
As anti-Indigenous racism rears its ugly head once again, there are too many amazing things to say about the number one city in the world, according to Travel + Leisure readers – starting with the entrepreneurs who have authentically kept the integrity of the culture alive.
From mezcal and mole to handcrafted products, the richness and beauty coming out of Oaxaca are plentiful. There are so many businesses that belong on this list.
Here are five to get you started!
Hilo de Amor
Hilo de Amor aka “Thread of Love” was founded by Esther Wright. After moving from Oaxaca to the United States, Wright spent over two decades in the corporate world. However, her heart never left Oaxaca.
In 2018, after visiting her hometown, Esther built a company that features authentic, handmade artisan products.
The website features over 500 products of handcrafted items made by proud Oaxacans. From bags, jewelry, home decor, and more, Hilo de Amor is sure to have something for you.
Cousins David Cordova and Kevin Ramos launched a retail store in Seaside, California with their stimulus checks at the beginning of 2022. The store sells high-quality brands such as Jordan and Yeezy. They started the company with their friends and named the store after their love for video games.
“The government gave you money to either do something with it or blow it off, which a lot of people did. And you know luckily, we capitalized on that,” said co-founder David Cordova.
“It feels really amazing to be Latino and doing this, especially for the community,” said co-founder Kevin Ramos.
About half of the population of Latinos in Seaside are from Oaxaca, Mexico. The cousins and their friends are all of Oaxacan descent as well and feel tremendous pride representing their community.
I Love Mole
I Love Mole was created to preserve the owners’ Oaxacan culture through authentic recipes. It is a family-owned business that began in 1994 with the opening of their restaurant Guelaguetza. Since then, I Love Mole has become a national online business providing natural ingredients from Oaxaca to all its customers.
“What differentiates our mole from other places is the fact that one: we make everything from scratch; and two: the chiles and a lot of the ingredients are actually from Oaxaca,” says Bricia Lopez, co-owner of Guelaguetza.
“I think it gives it that special flavor that people grew up with. And we’ve been using the same recipe for years. I think people who were brought up with mole, they have it in a special place in their hearts.”
This list wouldn’t be complete without giving props to high-class tequila from Oaxaca. Fausto Zapata and Vicente Cisneros partnered to create El Silencio – an authentic Oaxacan Mezcal tequila brand that prides itself on its contribution to the local community while leading the charge on sustainability in the mezcal industry.
“At our core, we consider ourselves a representation of the Oaxacan community, and we are very proud of the reputation the brand has earned with its people over the last eight years. As the mezcal category continues to grow, as does our commitment to uplifting and supporting these communities,” said Fausto Zapata.
En Vía started in 2008 and is a nonprofit organization specializing in giving Oaxacan women better opportunities to support their families and themselves. Investors from around the world participate in improving educational programs by providing interest-free loans to entrepreneurial women in five different communities in the Tlacolula Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico.
From tapestries to managing storefronts, and more, they work with approximately 200 women in the Tlacolula Valley. You can meet some of the women who work with En Vía by reading their individual stories.