We first learned about this brand from the Create & Cultivate conference in Dallas where Lo was on one of the panels (go, girl!). Since then we have had the chance to chat with a member of the local + lejos team (Amanda!) to discuss ways that we could share the local + lejos story with you guys. It finally clicked that a Q & A with their founder, Sheeva, would be the perfect way to feature them on the mag. And let’s just take a minute to adore these gorgeous images that they provided us with. Their images are truly a visual peek into the story and world of local + lejos — they pay so much attention to the details and have a passion for the beauty of the process, from start to finish. Because of their design with intention mentality, they are able to sell gorgeous products created by amazing artisans from around the world in developing nations. I could go on and on about how incredible their mission is, but I will let the Q&A with Sheeva tell the rest. xx
-Tell us a little bit about local + lejos in 2-3 sentences!
Local + Lejos is a contemporary, socially focused home goods company that creates modern pieces in collaboration with artisan women in developing nations. Our mission is two-fold, to provide accessibly price goods to you, while providing sustainable employment to women in need to developing countries.
-What was the main inspiration behind local + lejos?
The main inspiration for Local + Lejos was to give customers products they loved, at prices they can afford, while still being able to make an impact. There are so many talented artisans abroad, that do not have a connection to consumers here, and we wanted to start a company that bridged that gap.
-We are so inspired by your mission to empower local artisans. Such a beautiful thing! Can you share one story that has stood out to you when meeting and working with artisans from around the world?
Absolutely! one of our first partnerships was with our group of women in Rwanda. Last summer, we spent a month there to work on product development and to understand more of the social impact needs on the ground. After the end of a great meeting, the leader of the cooperative came up to me and pointed at a small building across the street. She hugged me and said “You see that there? That is a bank. Because of our work together, we were finally able to set up a bank account for our group. Now we will start to save.” Its moments like that when you realize how impactful it really is for these women to have access to steady work, something they’ve struggled to find before.
-We have a feeling that you have some incredible travel stories! What is your biggest tip for people when traveling to a new and unfamiliar place?
Our biggest tip: Get out of your comfort zone! Be open to meeting new people and trying new things – the best experiences in our travels have come from unexpected situations, that we were open to accepting. Also, always pack water & snacks.
-Speaking of travel, what is your most favorite place that you have visited to date? We know it’s a tough question! Top 3 is OK, too.
This is a tough call, but throughout our travels we’ve really fallen in love with Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. The only way to get from village to village on the lake is by boat, and it is truly a magical experience. In the morning, the lake is calm and quiet, and makes you feel so alive that you wonder why you ever need to leave. Meditation and yoga centers have popped up in a tiny town called San Marcos, making it even easier to find peace…and green juice 🙂
-The name local + lejos is so catchy and cool…we love it! More importantly however, the meaning behind it is so powerful. Can you share that with our readers and elaborate on the meaning a little bit more?
Since the whole vision of our brand is to connect people across the globe, we really wanted our name to reflect that. Lejos is the spanish word for far, and our mission is to connect local communities with ones far away. It took sometime to come up with it, but as soon as we did, we knew it was the perfect fit.
-Leaving a retail job to create local + lejos must have been a big step of courage and faith! Can you tell us about that transition?
Ah, yes. It has definitely been a roller coaster of a ride since leaving my job. I had been thinking about starting Local + Lejos for about a year, so it took some time and some careful financial planning to pull the trigger and make the leap. The first few months were amazing, because I had been thinking about this so long, I was so excited to finally be spending my time working on building this from the ground up. After a few months, a bit of reality built in. While I still felt I was on the right path, it took longer to get off the ground then I anticipated and I just had to trust I was headed in the right direction.
-We are especially in love with the bowls in your shop. What is the backstory of these products specifically?
The first time I saw these products being made in person, my jaw actually dropped. These bowls are handwoven in the hills of Rwanda, about an hour outside of the capital, Kigali. The women use all natural materials from their farms (grass and sisal), to weave these beauties. They start with a thick bushel of grass, and thread a needle using the sisal. Sisal comes from a plant, and is naturally a white color. Using tea, they dye the sisal to give it a brown tint. Depending on the size, the bowls take anywhere from 4 to 3 weeks to make.
-Do you have a current favorite piece? If so, what is it?!
Our favorites for summer right at HQ right now are definitely our Guatelamaen Serape Blankets – The Cerceta and The Verde are our top two! They are perfect for summer adventures at the beach or picnicking. Pass the wine, please!
-We are also in love with your Instagram feed– do you have any social advice to share as a creative small business?
Thank you! This is a tip that we started with in the beginning, and still stick with even now! Its really easy to get caught up in needing to post every day, or several times a day. But to us, social is about quantity over quality. Its important for us to ensure all of our posts are on brand. Since it can be expensive to get great original content, we try to space out our posts and really only say something when we have something to say, versus consistently updating without a purpose. Another tip is to befriend a photographer and do a trade for services to help keep it affordable!