How designer Adriana Pavon is aiding indigenous artists during Covid-19

Adriana Pavon is a Mexican designer and founder of Mexico Culture & Pride (México Cultura y Orgullo). Passionate about celebrating her Mexican roots and honoring her culture, Adriana created Mexico Culture & Pride as an initiative to support indigenous artists. With cultural appropriation running rampant in the fashion industry, Adriana’s focus is to celebrate and uplift authentic Mexican designs and artistry. 

Photo courtesy of Adriana Pavon

Mexico Culture & Pride offers various programs for designers to get involved. The Mexican Lab is a cultural residency program open to socially conscious companies who embrace green, sustainable businesses. The program focuses on designing authentic Mexican products, respecting small businesses, helping to secure employment, and preventing migration issues and family separation. 

The Mexican Hub is a residency program in Oaxaca, Mexico. Its goal is to foster cultural identity and welcome diversity. Through the Hub program, guests are welcomed into the residency to explore projects in the realm of textile design, eco design, sustainability, wellness, dance, human relations, and social work. 

Lastly, the Mexican Pro program focuses collaboration by building alliances with Mexican artists.

Since the pandemic began, Adriana has been doubling her efforts in aiding indigenous artists during Covid-19. 

Photo courtesy of Adriana Pavon

COVID-19’s impact on indigenous communities

Indigenous communities have been some of the hardest hit communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indigenous communities are already vulnerable, experiencing significantly higher rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases, poor access to health care and essential services, sanitation, and other preventative measures such as access to soap and water for frequent hand-washing. 

Another debilitating factor is the lack of access to resources in indigenous languages. Governments in Latin American countries “have focused their resources primarily on urban populations speaking dominant languages,” such as Spanish and Portuguese, but have not put much effort into making these resources accessible to rural, indigenous populations. 

Indigenous Artists of Mexico Culture & Pride (Photo courtesy of Adriana Pavon)

With lockdown measures in place, indigenous communities are also experiencing food insecurity and a loss of their traditional livelihoods. For artisans who make their livelihood through street vending and markets, the quarantine has been a devastating financial blow.

Government aid has been sporadic and difficult to obtain for indigenous artists who must meet very specific criteria to be considered. Because of this, many are looking to other avenues for aid and support during this time, but still the financial insecurity is causing much stress to indigenous artists with many now worrying that it will not be the virus that kills them, but hunger

Without tourism and street traffic, and with non-essential businesses forced to close, there is no market for Mexican artisans who live day-to-day relying on sales to make their income. This has been one of the many challenges Adriana has been working to address through Mexico Culture & Pride. 

“Our main source of income was financial solidarity trips where our guests were allies to visit the artist shops, experience unique culinary experiences with top chefs, and visit cultural spaces besides the regular fun tourism,” says Adriana. “With a hold on those visits, it’s taken a toll on many of the artists I support and it’s been challenging trying to support them from far away. We’ve been innovating and preparing for a new economy. Documenting, digitizing, and promoting ethical sourcing as a base to good business and a healthy planet.” 

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Aiding indigenous artists 

As a designer during the pandemic, Adriana has been working to provide more opportunities for indigenous artists. 

Aiding indigenous artists during Covid-19 has been at the forefront of Adriana’s business endeavors. She is focusing on connecting artists with wholesale clients who want to buy wholesale directly from the artists and make exclusive collections for them. 

“The main talking point is innovation,” she says. Finding new ways for local artisans to distribute their works. She encourages entrepreneurs who believe in ethical relationships to consider purchasing wholesale from indigenous artists and to support authentic cultural designs directly from the artists. 

Authentic Mexican creations (Photo courtesy of Adriana Pavon)

Adriana is also working on a new line of collections that will be aligned with people and planet-friendly actions. She plans to use this line to support various educational opportunities for indigenous women and is looking exclusively for women investors to launch the line. 

“I feel [women investors] would better understand the importance of this collection,” says Adriana, “so I’m waiting to fill the last 3 spots available.” 

Additionally, purchases made through Mexico Culture & Pride’s online shop, Tekiosk, will go toward aiding indigenous artists during Covid-19 who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. These purchases will help continue to support vulnerable indigenous communities so that they can stay safe at home. 

Victoria Arena

About Victoria Arena

Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. In 2017, she received her Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing from Brookdale Community College. Now, she is working toward her Bachelor's in English Literature at Montclair State University. Along with literature, Victoria is interested in Gender and Sexuality Studies, which she is pursuing as a minor, focusing closely on women's issues, gender inequality, and LGBT issues. These studies provide her with a feminist lens, which influences her work from both fiction to academic writings.
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