The Story Behind the Mexico Totes
Posted: Oct 29 2014
Un Viaje (A Journey)
At long last, the Mexico Playa Totes that sold out this summer are back in stock. It was our first day-of-launch sellout, and seeing the wait list fill up has brought us serious smiles.
We figure it’s a good time to tell you the story behind these awesome totes. In March this year, I headed down to Mexico to relax for the first time in a LONG while. After a crazy year since launching Activyst, I was excited to have a window to do a lot of nothing and taco-eating. Obviously, I’d been in the country about an hour when I started seeing brightly-colored bags everywhere, all of them screaming "Activyst!" I tried to ignore them, but man, I wanted to get my hands on those bags.
On day 2 or 3, I caved. I hit up every store in town, and chatted up artisans in the market stalls. There were tons of colors, textures and stories behind all the products, and it was so fun getting back to Activyst's origins - searching for awesome products that do good.
Pics from the first couple days when I tried to heed the wisdom of this sign.
Amid the sensory overload, there was a bright woven beach bag that stuck with me, though I couldn't put my finger on why. Then I learned that the bags are hand-woven by a co-op of artisans in Oaxaca, using a technique that has historically been used to make floormats for homes. Locals then started using a similar technique with a box loom to create large bags strong enough for the day’s market purchases.
I also realized the bag was super-functional. First off, the straps are actually woven into the bag! (This got me unreasonably excited - the strap attachment point is high risk for wear and tear, the straps being part of the bag avoids this. So smart.) The bags are also waterproof, vibrant, and have unique geometric designs like the "estrella" ("star" in Spanish) design we chose. Sourcing artisan products that meet our standards of durability, awesome design, and socially-responsible production can be a tall order, but these bags fit the bill.
Digging into the awesome Oaxaca beach totes, and a proud pic (ignore the kitchen) of "the one" to send to Leigh.
The Last Leg
We immediately tracked down the producer and placed our first order. A few weeks later, they arrived at my doorstep in California from a journey of their own, stamped with a big “Producto de Mexico.” They sold old in a matter of hours and have since been taking more journeys with some of you to beaches, day trips and vacations around the world.
We're so excited to reintroduce them. Thanks for sharing this Mexican journey with us, and can't wait to start getting the bags into the world again.
(Also, each of these bags supports a girls’ soccer program through Entre Amigos in San Pancho, Mexico, an organization I also discovered while there. More on that soon…)