That’s More Than Just a Gorgeous Scarf: The Anudando Story
Raquel Sereno is a bright young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit. After growing up in Mexico, Raquel headed to England to study design and craft. But while she went to the UK seeking opportunity, her mind and heart never completely left her home country.
As part of her studies in design, she learned about the impact that a designer can have on a product’s life cycle, and thus the environment. This got her thinking about the problems with deforestation in Mexico, and how designers could play a role in creating products that preserved our forests. Once Raquel realized the full potential of using design for good, she knew she was on to something big; “I had been dreaming of the possibilities of working locally in Mexico with a social innovation project.“
Like so many parts of the world, Mexico continues to struggle with extreme poverty in a big percentage of the population and quick development of natural resources to generate profit can often take priority over environmental protection. But Raquel saw a unique opportunity to create jobs while also protecting local ecosystems.
In 2014, Raquel returned to Mexico and launched Anudando, a home goods company which reuses and recycles materials like plastic bags and wood waste through craft techniques and strategic design. It was a perfect match of mission to place: in those same states where Anundando was founded –Estado de México, Michoacán, and Querétaro– there was a thriving tradition of handicraft that had been passed down for generations.
Raquel’s team is focused on “developing products of traditional origins with a contemporary outlook.” She says proudly, “All our products are fair trade, of the most high quality craft techniques that through their tactile and visual qualities reflect the unique stories of each of our craftsmen.” In Mexico, Raquel says that some workers at first have trouble understanding what she’s trying to do. “But once they understand how we work, and what we do with all the waste materials, they are very eager to get involved.”
This enterprise is deeply personal for Raquel. As she explained, “To see that all the effort and time you’ve invested in a project you believe in, finally starts to show results…with the first working samples, with a happy smile from a craftsman, with your first sale, exhibiting at an international Fair has no price. And finally, to see that your own craftsmen start collecting trashed plastic bags in their communities and show initiative on taking part of the project is the most amazing thing that can happen. You really prove that the project works!”
After spending months creating relationships with craftspeople and waste suppliers, Raquel recently launched the website where Anudando will sell its products internationally. Her hopes to grow the company and invest those resources back into the communities where Anudando’s workers live.
As the Anudando grows, Raquel wants to “have impacted not on only a few craftsmen, but…their whole community.” Specifically, Raquel’s hope is to support craftsmen to develop local coops that can sell products to Anudando while also generating additional clients. “That way,” Raquel says, “we can start working with other neighboring communities and the project can scale to make a bigger positive impact.” She hopes to eventually create “interactive shops,” where her team can share their skills and their knowledge about sustainable living with others in the community via workshops.
Raquel sees multiple connections between her project and the work of The Story of Stuff. Raquel noted, “Anudando is a small community project that is looking to change the way we work, they way we consume and the way we live. I think the ideals and values that Anudando and The Story of Stuff Project have, are the same. “
Raquel applied to The Story of Stuff Project’s Community Launchpad program in order to connect with others who may be interested in their mission. Anudando is hoping to connect with:
- investors who can help fund equipment and promotion to expand the business;
- retailers who are interested in selling fair trade crafts and design products; and
- young people who may be interested in a volunteer internship.
Are you interested in supporting Anudando’s mission? Get in contact with Raquel Sereno today.