AOW connects with Marcella Echavarria, Mexico City-based lifestyle specialist, to chat about her work and involvement in the artisan sector. Marcella consults with artisans and design entrepreneurs worldwide, offering her expertise on branding through a unique methodology that merges traditional brand development with the principles of sustainability. Her work gives small brands and enterprises much-needed access to the currency and codes of developed markets.
AOW: Please tell us a bit about your experience and background.
ME: I have always been interested in folk art, in the handmade and in people whose life journey consists in working with their hands. I studied history and literature at Brown University. When I returned to Colombia I wanted to write about this but unfortunately no one was interested. So I started working for book publishing companies and international publications such as Wall Paper, Elle Decoration UK, Marie Claire Maison etc. And I found that these international outlets were far more interested in the stories I wanted to tell. I published stories with them and that's when the local magazines followed. In time I received a UNESCO award for promoting crafts.
I quickly realized that the only way these traditions would survive would be to sell their products. I launched SURevolution 15 years ago with the help of Donna Karan. This was at a time when nobody else was talking about the handmade. It was groundbreaking in that by placing these handmade products in stores on Madison Avenue and at other traditional luxury retailers, the whole concept was redefined. SURevolution was one of the first companies to do artisan-made projects with Anthropologie, Tory Burch, Potter Barn…
Now I have a consulting company focused on branding and communications.
AOW: You've mentioned that "the missing link within the handmade sector is branding." Can you explain your reasoning?
ME: I believe that what is not communicated, does not exist. There is so much richness and content that needs to become visible in order to reclaim its value.
AOW: If branding is the missing link, how do you suggest artisan enterprises tackle this challenge? Do you suggest an enterprise hire a branding consultant?
ME: My advice is to first define a strategy. Branding is the visual manifestation of a solid strategy. So in five steps, my advice would be to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your brand doing?
- How is it doing it differently than other brands?
- Where is it and why is this location relevant? What’s special about it?
- Why are you doing this? What are your motivations?
- Who are you doing it with?
Some people can do it very well on their own but in general I think it's best to work with experts. After all, one cannot be his or her own doctor!
AOW: What are your favorite Instagram accounts or industry related sites to follow?
Also, here are a few websites from clients:
For more info, please visit: