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Journal / Special series
Spotlight on: the way u
In the northern peninsula of La Guajira, Colombia lives the vibrant Wayuu tribe, a matriarchal society that views weaving as a sign of wisdom and intelligence. For generations, Wayuu women have passed down the art of weaving to their daughters and continue to create colorful, intricate mochilas. It can take up to 10 hours to create the iconic mochila, which are then sold through companies like the way u, ultimately allowing for the preservation of the Wayuu community and their values.
Lillian Garcia (a fellow Colombiana!) founded the way u to honor her culture and provide fair wages and assistance to the Wayuu women. In addition to paying the Wayuu women for the hours spent hand weaving their clutches and mochilas, she donates 10% of her proceeds back to the communities. Like the way u, we believe in the value of handmade, ethically sourced products and the positive contributions they provide to a community.
This month we paired with the way u on our latest gift for you, a hand-woven clutch made by the resilient Wayuu women. Each clutch is slightly different, their varying patterns intended to tell a story and bring a little more color into the lives of those who own them.
So to celebrate this partnership, we asked Lillian a few questions about everything from her bond with the Wayuu to her beauty beliefs.
Q: We love love love the bags - how did you come to found The Way U?
My family is from Colombia so I was fortunate enough to spend lots of time there. Growing up I always loved and appreciated the beautiful work that the artisans in Colombia made, from bags to jewelry- it all fascinated me. I always indulged in shopping there, and it was after a trip in 2016, I came back to New York (where I was living at the time) with the most beautiful mochila bag and noticed that it was a showstopper - everyone would stop me to ask where I got it from and they were genuinely interested in the craftsmanship. From that moment I knew there was something more to be explored.
About a year later I traveled to La Guajira Colombia to visit the wayuu in their villages and communities and since then we have worked together on creating the beautiful designs that you see on our website today!
Q: What inspired you to work with them [the Wayuu tribe]?
There are so many things that inspire me about the wayuu and their community. What first drew me to the wayuu tribe was how beautiful the bags are and how practical they are. My awe for these women now goes beyond that. Now that I’ve been working with them for a few years, I can’t even count the number of ways the women of the wayuu community truly inspire me. For instance; they have great business acumen and are in return the main provider of their household. The men in the community support the women in their business and through the sale of the bags the women are able to provide for their families, send their kids to school and give back to their community.
Q: Like Tata Harpers approach to beauty - there is intricate and amazing craftsmanship that goes into the bags. Can you explain the process and how each is unique?
Each of the bags are woven with age-old techniques. The weaving process is a big part of the wayuu culture. Each bag takes between 7-21days to make each one. The weaving process is also a form of meditation for the wayuu women so as they are weaving they are praying for love and good energy for the person that will receive the bag. Making it truly a labor of love!
Q: Being the founder of a fresh, up and coming accessories brand, what’s your morning/skincare routine like? Do you consider yourself a skincare minimalist or maximalist?
Definitely a minimalist! The easier the routine the better, and the less amount of products the better. For my morning skincare routine I usually just take a minute to look at my skin and figure out what it is craving that day so I mix it up. I have combo skin so some days I really need to drench my skin while other’s I don’t. I usually start with clean skin, a hydrating oil, and always sunscreen!
Q: Do you have any go-to Tata Harper products?
I am a face mask junkie so I love the clarifying mask! Leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean. The color, smell and light exfoliation is all an added bonus! Also the restorative eye cream is the only eye cream I’ve every found that doesn’t make my eyes itch! It is a miracle cream!
Q: Are there any skin-care tips or tricks that you think everyone should know?
Always use sunscreen, use a deep cleaning mask at least 3 times a week, and oil based products are GOLD.