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Franca NYC co-founder, Jazmin de la Guardia on how art connects us through common language

Jazmin de la Guardia is the co-founder of Franca NYC, a small Brooklyn based design studio that focuses on handmade ceramics. 

 Franca NYC was born from an idea: There are common threads that bind us. No matter where you come from or where you are going, there is a commonality to be discovered. This common language, or lingua franca, is what we strive to achieve.  Craftsmanship, design, and artistry make up the foundation of our work, and we continue to seek out ways to bring the soul of lingua franca to each piece.

Born in Paraguay, with a mother from Uruguay and a father from Cuba, Jazmin grew up with a passion for travel and art. That passion eventually led her to Pratt Institute in NYC where she received her Bachelor’s in Printmaking. Following her education at Pratt, Jazmin took her skills and passion for art to co-found Franca NYC with her business partner, Sierra Yip-Bannicq. 

The idea for their ceramics design studio came about in 2016, after both women expressed an interest in owning a business. 

“We were both working in small design studios at that time and as much as we loved our jobs, we were both really excited about the idea of starting our own business,” said Jazmin. “We decided to launch our brand at NY NOW, where we got a lot of exposure all at once and thankfully started getting orders to get us through those first months.” 

The women chose the medium of ceramics to be the focus of their business because it was something they both loved and had been drawn to back during their college days. Focusing on ceramics also had the benefit of being low-cost. Starting out, Jazmin and Sierra had a very limited budget, like many new entrepreneurs, so making their products in-house from start to finish without having to make a huge investment in machinery and production equipment was a big advantage. 

Jazmin working in studio. (Photo courtesy Jazmin de la Guardia)

Jazmin recalls one of her fondest memories of these early days, while she and Sierra worked in their first studio making their products. 

“Sierra and I are working long hours in our first studio, just the two of us, making what felt like a million cups and mugs. We felt like we were melting, we had no AC and the studio was so hot the tar from the rooftop—we were on the top floor, walk-up—was literally melting into our space. The kiln was firing and it just seemed like we were inside a giant oven. Even though the situation seemed less than desirable to most people, we were thrilled to be there and would not have wanted it any other way. For us it was all worth it because we were working towards building something of our own and being independent.”

The threads that bind: Leveraging social media and community 

As they developed their business, they learned to navigate challenges and obstacles and leverage their strengths. 

One of the biggest challenges they faced as their business grew was learning to be flexible with their production volume. Jazmin shared that there were many times when they had more orders than they could accept, while other times when the flow of orders was much slower. 

“It was important for us to try and keep our staff throughout the year so we decided to try and ride the slower times as best we could,” said Jazmin. “During the slower moments, we relied on social media to keep up with brand awareness. Thankfully things seem to be more stable now and we feel we can plan our production accordingly, but I would say trying to be as flexible as possible was key to us growing as a business.”

Franca NYC leveraged social media to stay connected with customers and build their network. (Photo Source)

Through the use of social media such as Facebook and Instagram, Jazmin and Sierra were able to stay connected with customers and gauge what products they were interested in. It’s this connection, both online and in their local community in NYC that has been their strength and helped Jazmin and Sierra drive their business forward. 

“Thanks to our community we were able to ask for advice when we needed it and learn from our peers. We’ve been very lucky in this sense,” said Jazmin. 

You might be interested: Argentinian artist Lucia Maman explores feminine themes

Jazmin admits that at the beginning, she never would have even thought to reach out to other people, or even strangers, to ask for advice or just chat about their experiences as a business owner. 

“Now I can say it’s one of the things I recommend most people do, especially women. A quick Instagram or Messenger DM can go a long way,” Jazmin said. “Always reach out to other women. Creating that network and community will be not only great for your business but will also help you get through some of the overwhelming times you’ll inevitably go through as a business owner.” 

As Franca NYC’s message states: There are common threads that bind us. No matter where you come from or where you are going, there is a commonality to be discovered.

Art Basel 2021: Argentinian artist Lucia Maman explores feminine themes

Lucía Maman, an internationally successful plastic artist lives in Miami and stands out on the local scene. Each person who passes by her studio, located in the Allapattah district, is struck by her large extraordinary paintings.

Lucía inherited her passion for art from her father, gallery owner Daniel Maman. Today, based in Miami, she paints and explores the art business, and hopes to have a success in sales at the upcoming Art Week – known as Art Basel

Miami Beach Art Basel begins this Thursday, December 2nd, where Lucía’s 3 to 5 meter high paintings will be on display, welcoming both collectors and the general public curious to meet the young woman who has attracted public attention with her unique artwork. 

Her work is characterized by its expressive power. Her paintings often revolve around bioethical discussions that deepen the human question. Who are we and where are we going? What will become of our humanity in a world with increasingly tangible tendencies towards the amalgamation of the biological and the engineering of synthetic modification?

These are some of the questions that appear in her work and that she tries to answer with her figurative compositions. Critics and experts in the field of art have considered and described her excellent body of work as one that challenges the viewer in a visceral way. Her work impacts and excites. Lucía agrees and shares that one of the most recurrent comments when it comes to receiving visits in her workshop usually lies in the strength and intensity of her artistic proposal.

Lucía Maman

Her paintings often revolve around bioethical discussions that deepen the human question. Who are we and where are we going? (Photo courtesy Lucía Manan)

“I am interested in genetics, biotechnology, the place of the anomalous or the different in our society, the question of otherness. I inquire about current events such as radical discoveries that affect the genetic engineering industry, for example CRISPR, or advances in fertility and assisted reproduction technologies, or the manifestation of transhumanist ideals,” says Lucia. 

Since the inception of her work, distinguished critics and prestigious artists have predicted a path of success and they have not been wrong. Her paintings show a mastery and exceptional talent in the handling of color and matter.

In the four years since arriving in Miami, Lucía has become vital in the local art scene and a must see when visiting the Allapattah district. There, just a few blocks from her studio, are also key cultural spaces of the city of the sun such as the Rubell Museum and Espacio 23, a cultural center that exhibits the private collection of the collector and businessman Jorge Pérez, among others.

Lucía began painting in the studio of Juan Doffo, a prominent Argentine plastic artist. There, her love for artistic practice became evident. After passing through a course and at the end of her secondary studies, Lucía decided to start painting full time, assuming a commitment to art that has been going on for more than a decade. Today her work is in important private collections in Latin America, Europe and the United States and has been exhibited in prominent spaces in the artistic sphere. 

Lucía Maman

See Lucía’s 3 to 5 meter high paintings on display at the upcoming Miami Art Week. Her stunning pieces have captured the attention of critics and collectors alike. (Photo courtesy Lucía Maman)

You might be interested: Celebrating Mexican culture and honoring ancestors through art

Currently her work can be seen in her studio or in the exhibition spaces of the Maman Fine Art Gallery. For the Miami Art Week, the gallery will organize private events where you can see some of her works.

“I am ready to receive in Miami people who, due to the pandemic, have not been able to visit me before, and above all I hope to be able to share with them that wonderful experience of reconnecting artists with collectors and enthusiasts in general,” concludes Lucía.

The 2021 Miami Beach Art Basel will run from Thursday December 2nd to Saturday December 4th. For more information visit artbasel.com