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Latina entrepreneur brings best crafts of Puerto Rico to fair trade designs

If you have visited Puerto Rico, you know that Old San Juan is a “Must See” in the island scenery. This old historic district offers the best crafts of Puerto Rico combined with beautiful views, restaurants, art, museums, history, sculptures, music, dance, bars and nightclubs.

And if you haven’t, then prepare yourself for a treat. You will be walking around an old city in the tropics – it is very hot and usually humid. You must wear sun screen and a hat, and bring a bottle of cold water with you. You may even consider carrying a sombrilla for shade. And for all of it, just consider buying a Concalma tote bag right there, in the heart of Old San Juan.

Concalma cover best crafts of Puerto Rico

For the last few years, news from Puerto Rico has been related to high unemployment, corruption and government mismanagement. However, in the midst of all the negativity coming from the news, the people of Puerto Rico continue to be its bright spot.

Case in point is Matilsha Marxuach, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, who has made a name for herself. With a background in Design and Fashion, Matilsha has been on a dual mission- promoting her creations while generating employment for others.

Matilsha Marxuach Concalma best crafts of Puerto Rico

Matilsha Marxuach Concalma Founder and Designer

Matilsha knew the moment she finished her schooling that she would one day open her own business. She had become obsessed with the idea of recycling and eco-preservation, a new push in the Enchanted Island to preserve its scenic views and natural environmental beauty.

She became aware that women were spending more on quality and not quantity when choosing certain accessories or pieces of clothing. Her initial plans were to open up a boutique with second hand items but she also knew that the best crafts of Puerto Rico came from its rich source of labor and skilled artisans.

Blessed with a strong work ethics, she worked hard and opened her first store in Puerto Rico ten years ago but business was difficult in the first few years because the country was mired in a deep recession. Locals were only buying things they needed. Luxury was a forgotten item for many Puerto Ricans.

Matlisha’s initial venture into the world of business was a collaborative effort with a women’s co-op, which supplied labor for a third party to make hand-made designer bags, totes and clutches. When the third party textile business went bankrupt, the workers started to work for her.

She opened her store Concalma –with calm/at ease– in 2006 and has never looked back. Inspired by local culture and concepts of friendliness and functionality, she created a product that is relatively cheap, elegant and also helps build local communities.

With the use of social media and the quality of her products, her business began to pick up. Soon she saw tourists venture over to her shop instead of the ritzy malls. She could hardly keep up with production, and the rest is now history. She recently was one of eight finalists of the AccessLatina Business Accelerator program.

Concalma “with calm / at ease” brick and mortar store

Concalma store best crafts of Puerto Rico

Concalma store is one of the attractions in Old San Juan

Located away from the posh hotels selling purses and bags at exorbitant prices, Matilsha’s Concalma store has bags that can match any budget. Plus, her bags are environmentally friendly and look immaculate. The artistic bags are made of cotton with nylon liners and all the fabric is exclusively acquired from Puerto Rico suppliers.

The majority of her messenger bags are not only functional but elegant. They come with fine hand-made details and a mixture of fabrics. Prices vary from $35-$120.

In addition to offering their products, Concalma’s mission is to raise awareness about the importance of fair trading partnership with local producers and suppliers of the best crafts of Puerto Rico, based on transparency and respect that sustains equity in international trade.

While most Puerto Rican entrepreneurs have set up their businesses for the international markets, Matilsha is one of the few pioneers who believe in the term “going local.” The importance of local design and manufacturing as well as promoting sustainable practices makes Concalma a quality and creative design store with products that are the result of sustainable, social and responsible actions.

Doing business Concalma

Totebags Concalma best crafts of Puerto Rico

Totebags Concalma one of best crafts of Puerto Rico

Over the past few years, Matilsha has continued to produce a line of product that matches the store’s Spanish name “Concalma,” meaning to “approach everything with a sense of calm.”

Concalma serves as a marketplace for its own product line of designer tote bags and also distributes other best crafts of Puerto Rico from local designers or brands.

She fervently encourages local consumption and production, which has also created employment in this city with massive layoffs. While her major business is selling hand-made bags, you can also pick up some high quality exotic Puerto Rican coffee in her shop.

Matilsha still maintains her down to earth personality and her motto is to always please the client. She is well aware of her destiny and is embracing it with delight. Nothing makes her happier than to see people carrying her bags and to see her artisans well rewarded.

She has received recognition for her work and her creations as the 2014 winner of the “Microentrepreneur of the Year” by the Citi Foundation and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation; and the 2009 finalist of Guayacán, Inc.– EnterPRize Business Plan Competition.

Conscious buyer or conscious shopping

Concalma store Old San Juan

Concalma store in Old San Juan sells fair trade designs

Concalma designs and sells its products with the life cycle of the product in mind. They have set up different ways to encourage conscious shopping at its brick and mortar shop in Viejo San Juan –it doesn’t matter where buyers had acquired their product.

If you have been using your Concalma bag for a while and you are ready to give it up, you can visit the store and trade it in for a new one with up to a 15 percent discount, or you can do a straight exchange for a used one available at the store. Finally, feel free to buy used bags in store at a discounted price.

“We are happy to share with our customers the culture of conscious shopping, fair trade and solidarity in the economy,” Matlisha said.

LatinasinBusiness.us announces its 2016 Best Business Awards

We will Live Stream the LatinasinBusiness.us 2016 Best Business Awards on our Facebook Page: LatinasinBusiness.us on November 29 starting at 7:30 pm. Watch the competition and the final awards ceremony! This is an event you cannot miss!

LatinasinBusiness.us, the digital platform that advocates for Latina entrepreneurs, is announcing the 2016 Best Business Awards winners!

 

At LatinasinBusiness.us, we feel so blessed and grateful and truly excited for the response and support we are having in our first solo event! It is hard to provide all the details in just one post!  Supporters are showing up and our Latinas have responded with incredible gestures of cooperation and presence. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We want also to recognize all the people who made a mark in our publication during this year 2016. Without them, our work would have been almost impossible. Here are the winners of the 2016 Best Business Awards:

 

Life Time Supporter

2016 Best Business Awards

Luis O De La Hoz

Luis O De la Hoz, Vice Chairman @SHCCNJ Vice President @IntersectFund Chair #FNHCNJ Top Digital Influencer #Latism2016

In his own words, “I help non-for-profit organizations in how to reach the Latino Small Business Owner market. Latino business owners prefer an advisor who is specifically trained or certified in helping small businesses, speaks their language of preference and is involved in the community.”

In addition to being a “Padrino” in our Editorial Advisory Board, Luis has been a constant supporter and an invaluable friend of our platform. In fact, Luis has been with LatinasinBusiness.us since its inception, encouraging our initiative and being part of its mission. Nobody deserves a place at the 2016 Best Business Awards more than Luis!
Gracias siempre!

 

Read this story: Madrinas and Padrinos Editorial Advisory Board

 

Most Read Story – Original feature

Deborah Aguiar-Velez, empowering Latinas

Deborah Aguiar-Velez,

Deborah Aguiar-Velez, founder, president and owner of Sistemas Corporation

Back in July of this year, Cristina Abreu, a team member at Nielsen, contacted us to offer a feature contribution. She believed Deborah was more than deserving of a national recognition for her leadership role in advocating for Latina entrepreneurs and their important place in our economy. They met at the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI). In their first weekend together, strangers became sisters – hermanas.

An accomplished engineer and businesswoman, Deborah was nationally recognized for innovative leadership in the areas of entrepreneurship, technical development and public service. She was also a member of the 2013 HITEC 100, which is a list of the top 100 most influential and notable Hispanic Professionals in the Information Technology Industry.

 

Read this story: Deborah Aguiar-Velez empowering Latinas toward financial independence

Most Shared on Social Media Story – Original feature

Matilsha Marxuach, AccessLatina finalist

Matilsha Marxuach, AccessLatina finalist

 

Shop con Calma, Matilsha Marxuach, Founder and Designer

Matilsha Marxuach is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, who has made a name for herself. With a background in Design and Fashion, Matilsha has been on a dual mission- promoting her creations while generating employment for others.

Located away from the posh hotels selling purses and bags at exorbitant prices, Matilsha’s Concalma store has bags that can match any budget. In addition, her bags are environmentally friendly and look immaculate. The artistic bags are made of cotton with nylon liners and all the fabric is exclusively acquired from Puerto Rico suppliers.

 

Read this story: Latina entrepreneur brings best crafts of Puerto Rico to fair trade designs

 

Most Read Contributor – Original feature

Rosa M Mollo, Intercultural Communications coach and Change Facilitator

Rosa M Mollo

Rosa M Mollo, Intercultural Communications Coach and Change Facilitator

Rosa is a communications therapist known for her core “3 Cs,” the tripod of her passions: Communications, Culture, and Change. These areas of expertise are the culmination of over twenty years of international experience as a foreign affairs correspondent, key manager positions as News Bureau Chief in the US, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East, and a strong history embodying change as a positive catalyst for operational efficiency. Before moving to the US, she was one of the most trusted and influential voices of TVE, the Public Spanish Broadcasting Corporation.

 

 

 

Read this story:  Latinas brand identity and the power of your Hispanic accent

Rising Leader

Carolina Robles New Yrok Life

Carolina E Robles

Carolina E Robles, Director of Recruiting at New York Life Insurance Company; Founder, L.I.F.T (Leaders Initiative for Tomorrow) Empowering Lives

At only 26 years of age, Carolina Robles obtained a position as the Director of Recruiting Prospecting and Developing Talent at New York Life Insurance Company, managing talent acquisition for all the offices in the state of New Jersey. She recruits entrepreneurial candidates who are interested in a career in Insurance and Financial Services.

She launched L.I.F.T (Leaders Initiative for Tomorrow) Empowering Lives, a new personal initiative to lead and empower passionate individuals and help them reach their full potential while inspiring them to create leadership opportunities for young professionals.

She was fortunate to invite a co-founder, Wendy Perez, and two wonderful professionals that added tremendous value to her team. Thanks to her vision, LIFT Empowering Lives is a 501 (c3) organization with the mission to bring awareness to new leaders for a better tomorrow.

 

Read this story: Carolina Robles a leadership rising star on getting out of your comfort zone

Best Business Pitch – Winner of the LatinasinBusiness.us Pitch your Business competition

LatinasinBusiness.us 2016 Best Business AwardsOur annual event will include a Pitch your Business to Media Competition, a fantastic opportunity for only six Latina business owners who would present their products or services in front of a Panel of Media Experts and compete for the opportunity to become the 2016 LatinasinBusiness.us Best Business Pitch winner. See who they are and be there to cheer for them!

Read their stories: LatinasinBusiness.us announces its Pitch your Business competition

 

2016 Best Business Awards sold out almost 2 weeks in advance!

We are very excited, as I said, for the support and interest we received in our first solo event. We sold out almost two weeks in advance but do not worry if you were not able to find a ticket!

We will Live Stream the LatinasinBusiness.us 2016 Best Business Awards on our Facebook Page: LatinasinBusiness.us on November 29 starting at 7:30 pm. Watch the competition and the final awards ceremony! This is an event you cannot miss!