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A Little Help Goes a Long Way

latinoamerican artisans

A little more than a year ago I was walking down the streets of beautiful Oaxaca in search of handmade clothing for my shop. If you ever have the chance to go to Mexico, you definitely have to visit this charming city. You’ll be amazed by its cobbled streets, colorful churches, food, and happy people.

Just a few blocks from el zócalo (the main square), I found a small stall on the corner of a street with a table full of embroidered blouses. The blouses caught my attention right away. They came in bright colors and had huge flowers on them. There was a little boy in charge of the business and I asked him if he could give me the price of the blouses. After he shared the price with me, I told him I wanted to buy ten pieces. And in that moment, he turned around to see his mother, who was sitting near the stall. He shouted at her, “You heard that mom? She wants to buy ten!”, to which the mom simply smiled and nodded.

street kid

The kid must have been between six and seven years old, perhaps older. I will never forget the kid’s face the moment I said I wanted to buy ten blouses. His happiness was contagious, and it immediately became my happiness. However, after I left, I kept wondering why a small kid like him was selling clothes on the street instead of playing with other kids. Although, to be honest, it didn’t really surprise me too much considering Oaxaca is one of the most destitute states in Mexico. It’s very common to see kids working on the street, either selling chewing gum or cleaning windshields every time the traffic light permits.

But that moment made me reflect on the importance of our everyday jobs. Perhaps for that kid, selling ten pieces meant going home with enough money to buy groceries the next day. Or maybe it meant that he was going to be rewarded for a good day of sales. I want to believe that we all work because we’re passionate about what we do, but many times the reason is as simple as wanting to have a better future. Perhaps you’re bartending because you’re saving up for college. Or waiting tables to be able to travel the world. Or maybe you are working on a 9 to 5 job so that you can buy food to feed your children. Whatever the reason is, those day jobs serve a purpose.

In the end, it’s not about how much money we make, but what we do with that money. I know there’s a popular expression that says that money can’t buy happiness. But I believe money can be used to help pay for basic needs, health services, and pathways to dreams.  And even when all our needs are covered, we generally feel the need to work because we are simply creative souls.

street artisans

Two years ago, my online business was just a dream. It only existed in my mind. I dreamed about having an online clothing shop that would support the work of Mexican artisans. Nowadays the shop is real! Dressaraz was built from scratch and with very little money. It has grown with the help of artisans, friends, family, and loyal customers who believe in our mission. Whenever I feel discouraged, I remember my “why”, and I also remember that kid and his mom. When I wake up to orders in my shop, just like that little kid, my face lights up. And it’s not because of the money, but because of what can be done with that money.

Our why is what makes our jobs beautiful. What we do matters. It’s our offering to the world, and a way to show love to others. If we stopped to think about people’s whys more often, perhaps we would value others’ jobs more. Just think about it, if we all supported the ones who have less, perhaps they wouldn’t have to cross borders in search of work, or young kids in other countries wouldn’t have to work.

we are all connected

And when I say support, I don’t necessarily mean giving your money away. Perhaps you could help someone promote their small business by telling your friends about it. Or you could cook a meal for a friend who is struggling financially. There are limitless ways in which we can make a difference.

We have to stop putting labels on people, and calling countries “first” and “third” because we all come from the same world. The happiness of others is our happiness, and so is the pain. This is because we are all connected. Can you feel that connection?

So let’s support the hard worker, the creative, the hungry, and the lost. Let’s value the work of the janitor, the dishwasher, the cashier, the street seller, and the artist. Let’s support each other’s vision. A little help can go a long way.


Photo credit: Featured image by Fancycrave on Unsplash

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5 Amazing Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and if you were raised in a traditional family, you know how important this celebration is. In Mexico, schools from different educational levels even throw festivals to honor the mothers of the family, and kids make crafts in their classroom for the especial women in their lives.

Mother’s Day is celebrated around the globe, and dates will vary depending on the country. But it takes place most commonly in the months of March or May.

If you would like to give your mom something special this year, here’s a list of five gifts she will absolutely love.

1. A day pass to a spa.

Treat your mom to a day out at a spa resort. If you are in the Netherlands, I can highly recommend Fontana Resort. You can buy a gift card online which includes access to the thermal bath, swimming pools, and sauna. And as a bonus, you can include a massage or facial. Mom deserves a day of relaxation for herself after all she does for us.

spa resort netherlands
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2. A gift card from her favorite department store.

Ask your mom what her favorite shops are and buy her a gift card so that she can buy her favorite items. Just make sure to put enough credit on it! My favorite is Douglas – I buy all my cosmetics from there.

douglas gift card
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3. A Julia dress.

Our Julia dresses are one of a kind, and one of our best sellers. Our clients have raved about these dresses, saying that they are fresh, comfortable, and make them feel beautiful. They come in beige, white, and black. And the best part? This Mother’s Day we have a special offer for you. Get 15% OFF at the checkout using the code MOTHERSDAY15.  Shop now!

plus size dresses
Julia Dress in Beige XL by Dressaraz

4. A surprise day trip.

Is your mom an adventurous traveler? Then a day trip is perfect for her! Get her out of the routine and take her to a nearby city. If you are on a budget, Spoordeelwinkel has special train deals. You can also check out FlixBus for really great bus offers. And if you’re feeling like driving, renting a car with Europcar is a great option too.

renting a car
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5. A customized card.

If you want to give mom a handmade gift, then a customized card is ideal. Karen Ova makes beautiful customized illustrations. Just make sure to order in advance, since it takes a few days to be made, shipped, and delivered.

Illustration by Karen Ova
Illustration by Karen Ova

There you have it! I hope you liked these ideas. But if you’re still wondering what to give her, just make sure to give lots of hugs and love. Let her know how special she is to you. In the end, it is not about the gifts we give, but rather the quality time spent with our beautiful moms.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Beauty of The Embroideries from Jalapa De Díaz

blusa jalapa de diaz multicolor

This beautiful blouse is originally from Jalapa de Díaz, a town located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is 50 km west of Tuxtepec, the principal city in the Papaloapan region and the second largest in Oaxaca state.

This blouse or huipil originated around the 20s. It is embroidered on the front and back with elements of birds and flowers, which are characterized for their vibrant and happy colors. In order to create these pieces of art, the artisans first draw their ideas on the fabric (rayón), and then embroider each of the elements by hand. The embroidery itself takes approximately 20-30 days, hence the high cost of these blouses. They also embroider dresses like the one in this picture.

Vestido jalapa de diaz
Unfortunately, the region of Papaloapan isn’t safe at the moment, and the fights between cartels (drug dealers) have killed many innocent people. There is also a risk of being kidnapped if you happen to be on the street late at night. A lot of people have gone missing over the last couple of years, which is why many artisan women don’t dare to travel to the city anymore. Instead, they send the men in their families.

Every day, José travels from Jalapa de Díaz to Tuxtepec to sell the blouses and dresses that the women in his family make. He gets up every morning with hope that it’s going to be a good day, and that he’s going to sell enough dresses and blouses to bring money home.

artesano jalapa de diaz

I was raised in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca and happily lived there for many years. It’s sad to know that nothing is being done to end the insecurity in this beautiful city. However, the people have gotten used to living among danger, and they have hope that this will pass.

Before I moved to the Netherlands, my grandmother gave me a blusa bordada (embroidered blouse). I was happy to receive such a special gift, because at that time, I believed that wearing one of these blouses meant you had a good socioeconomic status, or that you worked very hard to buy it. When I moved to the Netherlands I brought it with me, and it’s now one of the most valuable pieces I have in my closet.

One day, I was walking down the street in the center of Groningen, and a couple stopped to tell me how beautiful my blouse was. They were amazed by the colors, and told me that they had never seen anything like it before. In that moment, I felt very proud of my roots, and the fact that I was wearing something made by people from my hometown. It wasn’t the first time someone “chulea” (praised) my blouse. Wherever I go people ask me where I bought it, and I’m always happy to say that it’s made in Mexico.

It was only after moving abroad that I became passionate about my own roots. That’s when I decided to start my own clothing business, Dressaraz. Our goal is to promote handmade traditional Mexican clothes and encourage slow fashion.

We believe that we can help others live a better lifestyle simply by supporting the work that they do. When you buy hecho en Mexico, you’re helping create a steady source of income for these artisans and their families.

So what about you? Do you have an embroidered piece in your closet too? Which is your favorite garment? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Check out our Jalapa blouses and dresses!

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Puebla Dress

boho chic dresses

Our Puebla dress is Dressaraz’ signature dress and our customers’ favorite without a doubt.

This dress is originally from the Mexican State of Puebla. It is hand embroidered with floral elements in different colors. Even though the dress might look similar to others of its kind, the embroidery isn’t always the same. What you get is a unique design that came from the imagination of the artisan who created it. Sometimes they embroider baskets with flowers, and other times birds.

The embroidery process takes approximately 20 to 30 days. Due to its popularity, the elaboration of this dress has expanded and it’s been plagiarized. At Dressaraz, you can rest sure you are acquiring a quality product, made by the artisans who make the original dresses.

When you buy made in Mexico, you’re helping to spread the beauty of Mexican textiles, and to improve the quality of life of the artisans who make these clothes.

Our hope is that this dress makes you feel comfortable and beautiful.

Care: This dress is made from poplin, a fabric mix of wool, cotton, and rayon. Since it is a strong fabric, you can put it in the washing machine (30-40 grados°), and in the tumble dryer. Of course, hand washing helps preserve the embroidery for a longer period of time.

Love this piece? Check out the Puebla dresses we have available in our store!