Welcome to a look into Hecho - a unique marketplace breathing life into traditional Mexican and Guatemalan artistry. Anchored in Oaxaca, Hecho marries respect for ancient crafts with modern sustainable commerce. Join us as we uncover Hecho's fascinating narrative - supporting artisans, navigating international trade, and striking a balance between preserving tradition and embracing modern design. Let's explore the essence of Hecho - where ethical entrepreneurship transforms passionate craftsmanship into a future-focused venture.
Hecho stands as a testament to the coalescence of time-honoured craftsmanship, cultural heritage, and the heart of sustainability. At Hecho, every item tells a tale, each story borne from the hands that sculpted it, the culture that nurtured it, and the planet that gifted it.
Hecho's concept of a "curated emporium" draws from the etymology of 'emporium'—a term rooted in Latin/Greek, signifying a merchant's journey—and 'curated,' which denotes the thoughtful selection and preservation of a collection. The term encapsulates their explorative approach to sourcing traditional, handmade works from over 60 artisans across ten Mexican states and two Guatemalan towns. However, their primary focus now is Mexican-made goods. Their journey, though ongoing due to the necessity of maintaining collaborations, constant product development, and the exploration of new regions, has also adapted to the current global context. In addition to their wholesale operation, they've started offering insightful tours, custom sourcing and product development, along with options for organized retreats, workshops, and cultural experiences, all with the goal of supporting local communities.
Sustainability Meets Tradition
Hecho's concept of a "curated emporium" resonates with us deeply. To them, and to us, this term is more than just a combination of two words. 'Emporium,' with its roots in Latin/Greek, signifies a merchant's journey, while 'curated' captures the careful act of selecting and preserving a collection. This concept is not just about sourcing traditional, handmade works from artisans but about weaving a narrative of culture, heritage, and craftsmanship.
Hecho's journey spans across ten Mexican states and two Guatemalan towns, with their heart and soul invested in Mexican-made goods. They have not only sustained a network of over 60 artisans but also adapted their path to resonate with the changing global environment. They've broadened their horizons beyond wholesale, offering enlightening tours, custom sourcing and product development, as well as custom retreats, workshops, and culturally enriching experiences. All of these are driven by a shared goal – to uplift and support local communities.
We see a reflection of our values at Green Bohème in Hecho's approach. Our commitment to sustainable practices and ethical production is mirrored in Hecho's operations. When we look at our Handmade Maguey Dry Brush, we see a symbol of this shared commitment.
Visiting Hecho's website, you'll be taken on a journey. You'll see handwoven baskets, naturally dyed textiles, and an array of items that showcase a deep respect for Mother Earth. Hecho's collection is a testament to the magic that happens when traditional craftsmanship is woven with modern sustainability, creating pieces of lasting beauty and functionality.
Each Product, A Unique Story
At Green Bohème, our love for distinctive and character-filled pieces is reflected in our collection of items like the Handmade Tropical Wood Serving Spoon. Hecho's collection mirrors this love with its masterful blend of form, function, and story.
Every item from Hecho is an eloquent storyteller—spinning tales of artisan skill, cultural roots, and harmony with the environment. These stories reach out from far-flung corners of the world, touching your home and life, creating a connection that transcends geographical borders.
Empowering Artisan Communities
Hecho's commitment to fair pay and ethical sourcing practices is deeply rooted in their direct, ongoing relationships with artisans. Compared to many others, they don't work with intermediaries, buy in markets, or purchase from large resellers or online providers. Instead, their product development for handmade goods is done directly with the makers. This allows Hecho to develop custom works exclusive to their collection and ensures they know exactly what the artisans are paid for these pieces. They reject the common practice of haggling in favour of allowing artisans to name their own prices based on time and materials used.
Artisans work from home workshops, setting their own deadlines and pace to balance other responsibilities such as childcare, elder care, and agricultural work. Moreover, many artisans raise their rates annually to account for inflation. This humane and sustainable approach to business embodies the ethos of Hecho and further strengthens their dedication to supporting artisan communities.
This commitment to responsible partnerships and respect for artisans harmonizes perfectly with our mission at Green Bohème. For instance, we uplift local artisans with our Handwoven Cotton Throw and Handmade Wooden Scoop. This conscientious commerce approach allows us to weave together a tapestry of global artisan communities, boosting local economies and promoting fair trade.
Sustaining Tradition, Navigating Profitability
Balancing the preservation of traditional art forms with financial sustainability is an increasingly complex task, especially given the rapid gentrification in Oaxaca and the misconception of Mexico as inexpensive. Handmade goods from Mexico often have a higher production cost than Asian or Indian counterparts, and courier-dependent shipping rates add to the expense. Hecho's ability to flexibly navigate these challenges stems from Ehren Seeland's decision to keep overhead costs minimal. There's no storefront or separate business space—Hecho operates from her home. This strategy was particularly valuable during the pandemic peak, when the business, like the world, was grappling with uncertainty.
Moreover, as Hecho doesn't have employees, Ehren handles everything personally. This often means long workdays and work-life balance challenges but proves most effective for her lifestyle and entrepreneurial goals. A graphic design, publishing, and international development background provided the foundation for Ehren to fulfill her dream—establishing a business in Oaxaca, collaborating with local artisans, and steering her own life and financial ship.
This spirit of maintaining authenticity and preserving tradition while navigating business challenges echoes in our ethos at Green Boheme. For example, our Handmade Tropical Wood Serving Spoon reflects the harmony of traditional craftsmanship and modern, sustainable business practices.
Challenges of a Sustainable and Ethical Business
Running a sustainable and ethical business model, especially one focused on slow-made works from natural, biodegradable materials, poses a unique set of challenges. Organic materials age differently compared to synthetics—they develop a patina with use, degrade with sun exposure, and eventually return to the earth. This entails educating our stockists and clients about the care, lifespan, and expectations of these pieces. Shipping costs from Mexico also largely limit Hecho to a wholesale model, necessitating a focus on volume while dealing with the inherently limited quantities of individual, handmade works. Paying artisans their asking price, supporting household expenses, and covering international shipping costs means that honest pricing may not be accessible to all and sometimes prevents the inclusion of certain exquisite pieces in custom collections, like the beautiful textiles from a talented, indigenous Zapotec family of weavers who raise their own silkworms.
Furthermore, the availability of natural materials is seasonal, demanding extensive advance planning and resulting in occasional wait times. From natural dyes only available at specific times of the year, wool shortages in winter, to the weather-sensitive process of weaving baskets or making pottery—managing these dynamics is a complex dance. It comes down to managing expectations with artisans and stockists while remaining committed to the integrity of the materials and processes.
Upholding Artisanal Authenticity
Maintaining a fine balance between the international market's demands and the authenticity of traditional artisanal methods is crucial for Hecho. Born and raised in Canada and spending nearly a decade living and working in NYC, Ehren Seeland, the force behind Hecho, has a keen understanding of what international markets desire. With each new artisan partnership, she clearly communicates the expectations: consistency in size, finishes, and adherence to timelines, while also respecting the natural variations inherent in the handmade process. On the other side, Ehren prioritizes managing customers' expectations. It's important to her that clients understand that these artisan creations are not identical, factory-made items but one-of-a-kind pieces crafted with unique processes that require special care. Hence, providing clear information about product details, care instructions and being open to client inquiries and feedback are fundamental for Hecho. The selection of stockists is also meticulously done, partnering only with those who genuinely appreciate artisan goods and the stories behind them. In essence, Hecho upholds its values even if it means turning down potential collaborations that do not align with their philosophy.
Relationships Beyond Business
Hecho takes great pride in its commitment to fostering in-person interactions and building strong relationships with its artisan partners throughout Mexico. The aim is not just to create transient capsule collections but to develop ongoing collaborations, which call for an in-depth understanding of different cultures. By adopting the local way of life and communication style, a harmonious partnership has been nurtured, and over time, some of these long-term collaborations have blossomed into cherished friendships. The bond shared extends beyond the professional realm in times of personal joys and sorrows, whether attending weddings, funerals, or family events. Hecho's founder's genuine interest in asking what the artisan communities need rather than making assumptions ensures that support is provided during challenging times, including food drives, marketing and tech support, translation of materials to English for their respective clients, and so on. This level of empathy and support is mutual, as demonstrated when the founder received emotional support from the community during personal hardships, highlighting the deeply-rooted relationships between Hecho and its artisan partners.
Preserving and Promoting Traditional Artistry
Hecho's commitment to preserving and promoting traditional art forms in Mexico and Guatemala goes beyond providing consistent work orders and a stable income stream to artisans. Hecho aims to foster an appreciation for the time, knowledge, skill, and dedication embedded in each handmade piece, as well as to dissuade people from haggling with artisans. A crucial part of the mission is documenting and disseminating the stories of these traditional artisanal processes.
A significant challenge faced in Mexico and Guatemala is the younger generation's dwindling interest in carrying forward family legacies in the form of creative processes. They often witness their families struggle financially and face disrespect when buyers haggle over prices. Ethical collaborations, buying practices, and reverence for the artisans' craft instill a wider awareness and respect for these cultural legacies. This might, in turn, encourage more young people to continue with these traditional practices. The alternative is a future filled with soulless, mass-produced items that serve only to perpetuate the corporate machine.
Pioneering A Sustainable Future
Hecho's journey fuels our passion for unearthing products that champion the coexistence of beauty, practicality, and sustainability. Their collection, filled with items that nurture the planet while captivating the senses, urges us to continue our work at Green Boheme.
Explore the rich, sustainable crafts at Hecho. As you add these to your home, you're not just decorating; you're appreciating an artisan's work, supporting a community, and playing your part in a sustainable future.
Like Hecho's Hanging Wall Basket, each Hecho product adds a touch of sustainable charm to your surroundings.
Stay rooted in sustainability. Stay blossoming in uniqueness. Stay Green Bohème.
Note: This post is purely informational and not sponsored. Our admiration for Hecho's commitment to sustainable and ethical practices is genuine, and we hope it inspires our Green Bohème community just as much as it does us.