In recent years, there seems to have been a shift in how the world perceives businesses and businesspeople.
More people are paying attention to the expertise of often-overlooked groups, such as the Latinx community, which is long overdue, to say the least. Hopefully, others will realize that antiquated mindsets and systemic inequalities need to be eradicated once and for all.
Paola Gonzalez of México en la Piel is a Latina whose ingenuity is at the forefront of her business.
Gonzalez spoke to BELatina News a few days ago to allow us to learn more about her brand. One thing is for sure — she seemingly adapted an intersectional vision that should allow her to create a globalized impact.
México en La Piel, created in Guadalajara, Jalisco, is an artisanal brand that celebrates both the traditional beauty of Mexico while modernizing it without hindering its essence.
Gonzalez said she was tired of not seeing these types of designs in the market, so she decided to do something about it. She maintains its authenticity by working alongside her Tía Norma, who is a seamstress.
“I would spend my summers in Mexico with my Tía Norma,” Gonzalez told BELatina. “One day, I asked her if we could put a little piece of material together for a handbag, and she agreed to it. She’s always been so supportive of me, she’s like a second mother to me.”
Born in Mexico and raised in Arizona, Gonzalez has always understood the importance of elevating both of the places she called home. Now, that’s the beauty of an immigrant — having pieces of your soul and heart scattered in more than one place, so your spirit is never caged.
Her journey towards becoming a businesswoman wasn’t linear. Once she graduated high school, she was unsure of what she wanted to do with her life, career-wise.
As in most Latinx families, her family urged her to go into medicine, law, or teaching. This trend is common in many of our families as they tend to think these careers will provide more stability, but without them understanding that personal fulfillment might suffer along the way.
However, she always felt an urge to create something that would embody her Mexican culture, even if others didn’t agree with it. In fact, her family would often question her for returning to Mexico because they felt that she was wasting away the opportunity of her “American Dream.”
Nevertheless, this didn’t deter her from her passion.
“I think their comments were part of the reason I opened up México en La Piel,” she said. “I wanted to prove to them that you can become anything that you want to and that anyone should feel empowered to speak about their roots and heritage.”
Gonzalez founded México en La Piel in the hopes to serve as many people as possible. Of course, her creation would benefit the fashion industry, but it goes further than that. She also made sure her business would benefit everyone involved in the production — from the person who sold her the textile fabrics to the person helping her transport the products.
“My business helps 22 other businesses, including the women artisans who work to bring México en La Piel to life,” she underscored.
Everything in her store has a story that is weaved into her culture and the respect she has for those helping bring her dream to life.
“I wanted to highlight the stories of where the tassels came from, where the chain comes from. And, I wanted to make sure they were compensated well.”
She understands that compensating all the women involved in her dream would make her brand more genuine. On top of that, she would be helping them fight machismo by paying them fairly.
“Breaking that machismo mentality means having women stray away from feeling like they have to worry about ‘what ifs’ or following a certain path,” she said. “Our culture tries to dictate a lot about women, but it’s missing the part where women need to be empowered at all times. This is why I strive to empower women by giving them a platform where they can present themselves and their work.”
While her business tries to dismantle the machismo mentality, it also pushes towards ending wage imbalance. Women are paid about 19 percent less than men in Mexico, whereas Latinas are the lowest paid women in the United States.
México en La Piel focuses on closing the gender pay gap in Mexico and the U.S. by providing opportunities to appreciate Mexico’s rich art, and uphold the high value for what its authenticity is worth.
Gonzalez works with a lot of small businesses and shops in order to provide her customers with a genuine piece of Mexico. She wanted people to feel connected to her creation no matter where they went. That’s why she uses the Mexican peso throughout her brand to further her statement.