Here at 32 Estados we support social entrepreneurs in Mexico that are creating ethical, sustainable and vibrant change in their local communities. Social businesses in Mexico focus on social and environmental issues and the most exciting growth we see comes from women and indigenous communities.
One such partner who is creating social impact is Táabal, a clothing, accessories and home goods store based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Táabal currently works with over 120 artisans from different indigenous communities around the state of Chiapas. These communities have historically been disenfranchised and oftentimes experience exploitation when participating in business practices. Táabal has set a standard of just payment and ethical treatment of the artisans, whose labor intensive work (a blouse can take over 40 hours to make!) produces one-of-a-kind pieces to be enjoyed by all.
One thing that jumps out to us about Táabal are their efforts to empower the indigenous communities that they work with by providing economic mobility, building family wealth and reshaping their communities. We also love learning about the different regions, such as Zinacantán, whose local specialty are colorful clothing items and textiles made on looms. The technique used by the artisans is called ‘telar de cintura’ and consists of tying the wool or thread to a tree or an upright column and the artisan sitting on the ground with the thread around their waist.
It is our belief that by bringing these artists into the mainstream, we are empowering local communities towards financial independence and ownership over their work. It is our hope that they will serve as a catalyst within their community and become critical sources to retain and recirculate wealth in their communities.
We recently chatted with Antonio, one of Táabal's founder, to learn a bit more about his entrepreneur journey. The following interview has been edited and translated from Spanish.
What motivated you to launch Táabal?
Táabal was born with the purpose of setting a precedent based on work models and commercial relationships with the indigenous communities of Chiapas based on fair trade and sustainability practices. Motivated by a reality contrary to these principles, we decided to make a contribution to the artisan ecosystem by proposing fair models that have been adopted by artisans and producers alike.
What are some current struggles you face as an entrepreneur?
The main obstacle we have encountered is the entry into specialized markets and consumers with the right profile. Consumers who prioritize responsible consumption, who are concerned about their social and environmental impact in each of their purchasing decisions.
How are you making an impact in your industry?
We have demonstrated that healthy, non-welfare production models are a possible and ideal way to generate lasting wellbeing in Mexico's poorest communities. Our impact in terms of sustainable income generation, poverty elimination, school attendance, elimination of child labor, and use of sustainable materials, is today a result increasingly recognized by other brands in the region, which drives us to continue setting higher and higher standards that can be proven.
Tell us what makes the artisans you work with unique.
These are highly-skilled, technical artisans with an innovative profile and are open to new proposals and alternatives.
How are the artisans you work with creating change in their community?
As the effect of our work models creates visible effects in the communities, the artisans are empowered to seek out other areas such as design, innovation and the treatment of new materials.
What advice do you have for aspiring social entrepreneurs?
When you have an idea of social entrepreneurship, you should always visualize the whole path of your product, from the creation, the materials and even to its post use or disposal.