Carla Fernández's Taller Flora

Carla Fernández's Taller Flora: Empowering Creativity in the Communities

Cuauhtémoc, MexicoMexico
Year Founded:
2009
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We want to enhance artisans’ creativity based on methods of their own. By using processes that are familiar to them, it is easier for them to create new designs. This pedagogical aspect also helps strengthen networks that function on the basis of fair trade and environmentally friendly materials.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if, in collaboration with artisans, we can create a sustainable option that incorporates craft processes, –involving itself in the contemporary scene without being “folksy"?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The general public is usually not aware of the slow, painstaking process required to make an indigenous Mexican textile garment. It can take an artisan up to six months to make a one-meter-long weave: the spinning and dying of the yarn, the weaving, and tailoring are all done by hand. We want to create a process that allows us to produce enough artisanal handmade garments to supply stores, and offer a more extensive line of clothing.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We propose and promote a design method based on indigenous dressmaking formulae using back-strap looms, but also apply these patterns to tailored garments. In this way, we keep up with the pace of fashion today and deliver handmade creative products to the public. Indigenous women are less and less leaving to the cities looking for work, they are staying in their communities preserving their textile traditions and getting a fair trade for its merchandising. This is what we propose: to preserve culture and craft by promoting it to the world and portraying its unique value.

Awards

WINNER OF THE PRINCE CLAUS AWARD, 2013 RESIDENCY AND INDIVIDUAL EXHIBITION 2013-2014 AT THE ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM, BOSTON; COLLABORATOR OF CULTURAL AGENTS AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY; WINNER OF THE QUORUM PRIZE FOR BEST DESIGNER 2012.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

I once joined a program aimed at the development of craft design and implemented by the government. When I started working with groups of indigenous people, I realized it would be impossible to teach them Western dressmaking techniques. The use of centimeters and inches was a cultural convention that was sometimes awkward: instead, they used fingers, palms and forearms as measures. At that point, I understood that it was natural to use the codes that indigenous people had already mastered. If I wanted to teach, I first had to learn. Flora workshops are reciprocal learning experiences. Artisans and designers exchange ideas, creating new products and seeking solutions to the needs of individual co-ops’.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The method has the following impacts: It avoids turning co-ops into sweatshops that manufacture other people’s designs. Artisans become more and more aware that they are artists. They can introduce changes and invent new styles. If artisans are using a method that is familiar to them, they can create their own prototypes for new innovative garments. Creative people make original designs. Those who introduce new designs are likely to also improve their businesses, or create one from scratch. Educating consumers: garments must bear labels that specify how, where and by whom they were made. This last is what we see improving in the future: the more people learn the value of the artisanal, the more artisans will have the opportunity to develop their businesses and earn what they deserve for their craft.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Traditional garments often need a “nudge” in order to be transposed into the world of fashion. We want to take traditional garments and patterns and sometimes make minimal alterations–changing the color, the size of the decoration, the cloth’s thickness, etc. At other times, we want to encourage the use of traditional clothing and its systems by making it accessible to a broader range of customers. For instance, simply adding belt loops to an "enredo" makes it more attractive to someone who is unfamiliar with this type of clothing. We spread by adapting: but staying loyal to to the roots.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have to think of each group of a artisans as a business, where the development of products come with economic benefits for the business. Around 90% of the time artisans approach Taller Flora through nonprofit organizations. Our format is convenient for those because training and sampling expenses are absorbed by those NGO's and sales and distribution of products is guaranteed through our brand, Carla Fernández.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Aid to Artisans is helping our communities to develop their craft in a business environment, creating economic opportunities for artisan groups around the world where livelihoods, communities, and craft traditions are marginal or at risk. They accomplish this by working with partners in the countries where they work and in the markets they connect artisans with. We differ from Aid to Artisans in the way we serve as a channel for direct contact with the market; we collaborate and represent a strong knowledge ground for artisans from the moment they create a garment until it's sold worldwide.
Team

Founding Story

Since her childhood, Carla Fernández has been a fan of Mexican culture. Carla discovered the wealth and potential of the Mexican textile and design. Her background in art history and fashion design allowed her to study the indigenous dress from an anthropological angle. She founded a fashion label inspired by the geometrics and textile richness of Mexico. Her proposal is contemporary and edgy with a warm and intellectual touch. This style is the result of 15 years of experience studying Mexican apparel, perceiving in it a striking design potential. The clothing reflects the sophisticated system of indigenous clothing based on the direct collaboration with artisans.

Team

We believe that to successfully work with the best artisans, we also need to excel in-house to produce the best fashion. Our team is led by a Creative Direction, followed by an Operative Direction to make sure the distribution channels, management and taxations of the Company are being fulfilled. Our Design and Production team works in-house to create new and inventive means of fashion design, and keeping up the pace of the fashion industry. Their experience involves years of working for renowned brands like Gareth Pugh, Boudicca, among others. Their eyes are always open for trends, new materials, new working environments and techniques, seeking to develop our platform into the new age of creativity. Our Media and Marketing team has the task of reaching out to consumers about what we offer, always in the loop for online branding strategies so we have worldwide presence. They also ensure the growth of our Social Media platforms, where the interaction with the world takes place to carry our message. This team has worked for many e-commerce platforms, they've created their own media networks and are constantly taking classes and studying the evolution of the consumer's interest out there in the market. These are all full-time roles in departments that work in our Mexico City studio. Part-time members of our team are interns: we are always welcome to receive students from Mexico and abroad so they learn our methodology and choose by themselves to apply it once they go to the field of the Fashion Industry. As the project grows, we want to feed these elements of our Company with more projects, more communities to approach, more product lines to distribute; from there, learn our necessities: we would fulfill the new roles and departments we would need for a completely global approach that is perfected and always improving.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Advocate/Organizer, Brand Representative, Designer.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Consumers, Designers, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.).

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Advocacy, Organizing, Media, Policy.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?

yes

If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes, we've inspired our governmental institutions to reach out to more communities and help them be a part of the market.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We collaborate with other brands and institutions to increase the power of the workshops and the outlets of its results.

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