We Met on Instagram and Became Business Partners & Lifelong Amigos

Get ready for a crazy story! During lockdown, I was scrolling through Instagram and discovered an adorable pig clay vase from Oaxaca.
Image: The marranito red clay vase from Oaxaca | Source: Casa Paz​​

I immediately fell in love and wanted to repost it for the Mexico In My Pocket community.


So I messaged the owners and asked them for permission and to my delight, they said sí! 


What I didn’t know was that this simple re-post would change my life forever.


After sharing the image on Instagram, many of you commented that you were interested in purchasing the clay vase, so I directed you back to Casa Paz (the account where it originated from).


At first, a few sales were made. But then, Casa Paz was facing two major hurdles:

  1. Customers were not comfortable using cash apps to wire payments to Mexico.

  2. The cost of shipping was extremely expensive.

When I received messages asking for help, I immediately answered that I was not affiliated with Casa Paz and therefore, I would not be able to work on these issues.


As time went on, I received a few more inquiries from business owners and artisans asking for help with sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


My heart broke hearing these stories, but as someone who had zero retail experience, I had no idea what to do.


At first, I tried promoting the products with an “online store” that linked directly to the businesses, but unfortunately, we faced the exact same hurdles.


After receiving more messages––from people who wanted to purchase items, but who were not comfortable––I realized I needed to do something.


So I reached back out to Casa Paz (Luis & Denise) to see if they would be interested in collaborating.


In the beginning, it was tricky logistically, but eventually we were able to launch our first pre-sale and it was a great success!


Not only had we managed to make sales, but we also created a “giving back” component so that we could donate “despensas” or pantry baskets to artisans in need who were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


After collaborating with Casa Paz, our sales increased so much that I was Whatsapping with Denise and Luis (Casa Paz) daily.

Image: With Casa Paz aka Denise and Luis and Eme — the creator of the marranito red clay vase in Oaxaca. ​​

It felt like we had known each other for years and years, but the truth was we had never even met in person.


The beauty of it all was that we had the same mission––helping Mexican artisans reach clients in the United States during the COVID-19 crisis.


Today, it’s been almost two years, and I can honestly say that I still look forward to Casa Paz’s Whatsapp messages.


In fact, when we haven’t heard from each other in awhile, we often jokingly voice note to say –– “Are you okay? Just report back because we’re getting worried.”


It’s incredible to think that––thanks to Instagram––I was able to connect with likeminded individuals across the world to help make a difference for our culture and community.

Last year, I finally met Luis and Denise in person during Day of the Dead. 


And this year, they visited me in New York City and they were able to see the Mexico In My Pocket shop!


When I visited Oaxaca, they treated me like family. They picked me up at the airport with a “cartulina” or handmade sign and personally gave me a tour of their hometown and introduced me to the artisans we work with.


The best part is, even though, it’s only been two years of knowing each other––Denise and Luis have become more than just my “business partners.” In fact, I think of them like “my Oaxacan brother and sister.”

With Denise & Luis eating Pizza at Grimaldis in New York City.​​

We have a connection like I’ve never experienced before and you can often find us cracking up on the phone about “our latest adventures.”


Working with them and visiting the artisans in person to learn more about their craft is something I will always cherish.

Image: Despensas prepared for artisans in need during the COVID-19 crisis.​​

Thanks to my Oaxacan brother and sister (Luis & Denise), we have also managed to donate over 200 despenas to artisans in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Although, the work can be exhausting, it is also extremely rewarding and I can’t wait for our next Oaxacan adventure!


Gracias, Denise and Luis for your amistad and for allowing me to collaborate with you on something so special.





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About the Author

LUISA NAVARRO

Mexican-American journalist, former national news producer, and graduate of Boston College and Columbia University School of Journalism. Her mission is to shed more light on the beauty and traditions of Mexican culture. This website is dedicated to her grandmothers, Tita Susana and Tita Lupita, who taught her to be proud of her heritage and to always remember where her ancestors came from.

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