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VOZ: Chile’s native Mapuche weavers meets Stanford

Lots of people have beautiful ideas. Sometimes they even know how to implement their ideas.

But how are they going to share them with their friends or even a larger community of people, other countries and eventually the whole world?


How do you get started and connected with people?

Jasmine Aarons, product designer of the Institute of Design in Stanford, mastered this challenge and her startup called VOZ, which came to exist in Chile in 2011 is the proof that she succeeded.

In this startup, she started to help female Mapuche weavers in Chile to create a line of unique and competitive products at an international level, supporting them financially, creatively and personally!

Together, they became pioneers in a model of workshop in which the weavers learned much about design, expressing themselves and adapting their ideas in final prototypes, which the design team then perfected.

These first prototypes were well appreciated because of their characteristics and were featured in the United States trade fairs in 2010.

During the year 2011 and after bringing together a professional and international team in Chile and the USA, VOZ was officially founded to create unique products through collaborative design, being a platform on which artesans and designers meet.

How this is done

The name “VOZ”, which means “voice” in English was chosen because it literally gives a voice to the Mapuche weavers and artisans, as well as international fashion designers by enabling them to finally express their ideas through fashion, basically celebrating their ancestral art and maintaining an important part of their culture.

All the fashion comes to exist in a lively creative dialogue between those international fashion designers and the textile artisans.

They work together closely in workshops that are oriented at those of the Stanford in order to envision, prototype and finalize the signs for the VOZ collection.

These workshops are of course challenging, because they take the artisans to new creative frontiers and push their limits, but they also provide training in contemporary design as well as business and this is where some people discover their until then hidden talents.

This is such a great model because on the one hand it shows off a really old culture but on the other hand it proves that this culture is still able to innovate and play in the international market without having to give up part of their culture.

Artisans of course receive name credit and money for every sold product of the VOZ collection.

One could summarize VOZ’s business model in this equation:

VOZ = Fair trade + sustainable production + collaborative design

How to become international yourself!

But of course this business model does not only work for fashion, but also for other fields of work. So if you have original ideas, be it fashion, art in general or anything similar, here are some suggestions given to you by Jasmine herself, if you want to internationalize your products:

It is all about relationships! Reaching into a new culture is impossible without making personal relationships. If you are still unknown to everybody and don’t know anybody yourself either, Jasmine suggests getting in contact with organizations that support the kind of art you are creating.

Do some research online, get in touch with them either directly online or via skype, schedule meetings to get to know them.

And especially take your chances to be humble and curious, ask a million questions. We actually have a saying in Germany that says “Asking doesn’t cost you anything!” So go ahead and ask.

Once you meet people, ask them how to best connect to the creative community and the local industry.

In order to become more and more known and “embraced by a new culture”, how Jasmine words it, it is important to impress the “tastemakers”, the ones who announce the greatest new talents to the wider audience. Those who can share your ideas and innovations with their connections and so on.

Get connected now.

Do some research, and be curious!

Nobody can punish you for being curious!