Lula Mena empowers the at risk women of El Salvador through artisanship and innovation. Her love affair with traditional techniques began during her studies at a local university. When she became a mother and experienced the many benefits of a flexible schedule, Lula Mena became aware that her knowledge and passion could empower indigenous women in the surrounding artisanal communities.
With fair trade practices as a template and honoring eco-friendly practices, the women created modern designs with time-honored qualities. Within four years, they found the success they worked for.
She started a company in her own name based on the principles of sustainability, fair trade, and local, well-managed resources. Her products were made from repurposed materials such as copper wire, pioneering the reactivation of indigo farming, and using local and natural resources like the seeds used in the company’s evocative Seeds of Joy jewelry line. Long-standing techniques were being impersonalized and industrialized, resulting in the loss of economic stability and disenfranchisement of the locals, particularly the women she loved and admired. Eventually, she sold her designs to the Lula Mena Store. There she now focuses on design and product development. Now the company employs fourteen artisans, all women. Through the Seeds of Joy line, along with others available to buyers including The Bright Soul Collection, Land of Dreams Collection, handwoven textiles, and other Seed Collections, Mena has helped other women establish themselves in their families and communities.
One artisan by the name of Ana Maria Santos shared her story with Global Goods Partners (http://globalgoodspartners.org/collections/lula-mena). “Now I can give my kids a better education and nutrition with the money I make. Lula has helped us enormously, without her help, we would not be growing in different areas of our lives. I like the fact that with our work, we are helping our communities. The men collect the seeds we work with, sell them to us and everyone goes home with a little money for our families.”
The same women that Lula Mena’s work has so positively affected were told they wouldn’t thrive handcrafting jewelry and textiles, much less be able to support their families. The women turned hardship, poverty, and instability into challenges they worked to overcome. Mena mentored them in the art of traditional techniques, marketing, and salesmanship skills. With fair trade practices as a template and honoring eco-friendly practices, the women created modern designs with time-honored qualities. Within four years, they found the success they worked for.
The company’s success has reached global proportions. It is the first Salvadoran company to showcase its designs at the Emmys and Oscars Gifting Suites. The wages the women earn are three times that of the daily average of most in their communities.
Their brand continues to combine equitable fashion and equitable product. It honors and empowers women, allowing them to maintain a flexible and unique lifestyle. Each piece represents their beautiful story and emphasizes quality, natural, and repurposed materials.
Lula Mena will be exhibiting at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from August 21st through August 24th.
For more information, please visit www.lulamena.com.