The Story of Osadia
My name is Brenda Marmolejo, I was born and raised in Mexico. I am an engineer by day and an entrepreneur by night. Since an early age I knew I wanted to explore the world and so far I have lived in 4 different countries and travelled quite a bit. I am passionate about topics like diversity, women’s rights and social justice.
When I moved to Calgary in 2014, I began to conceptualize the idea of having a business but I wanted to find a project that would reflect how I want to see the world and how I want to live.
Coming from Mexico, I understand how millions of artisans in developing countries struggle to get access to international markets and this limits them to reach their full potential, so after having lots of conversations, brainstorming and glasses of wine with my husband, I came up with the idea of creating an online platform to help artisans, designers and social enterprises to get exposure and scale their business, and at the same time provide a different shopping experience to consumers having products that have been ethically made and that generate meaningful income to artisans and their communities.
That is how Osadia was born.
I understand Osadia means “audacity” in Spanish. What was the process in choosing the name ?
I don’t think there is a literal translation, but “audacity” is very close.
The truth is that it took us a long time to select the name. I wanted to pick a Spanish word, easy to pronounce and that would reflect the unique journey and stories behind our products and those are all stories about hard work, courage and resilience.
So, after a lot of brainstorming, we came up with “Osadia” and I think is the perfect name because not only reflects the brave stories of the artisans that craft our products, but also the things we believe and care about, like social justice, defending the rights of the most vulnerable and changing the world through small brave acts.
What is the process of curating and selecting products/designers for the store?
Our values drive us through the process of curating, we only select products that are contributing to make the world a better place and we only partner with brands, artisans and designers that share our goal of empowering the communities they live in and who are committed to social and environmental well being.
We look for products that are made with high quality, sustainable materials and produced through fair trade standards like fair pay, gender equity, good working conditions and no forced child labor. We curate products for an ethical lifestyle.
Every product in our store is handpicked and is one of a kind creation.
How can someone become a maker with Osadia?
We look for creative and passionate people who believe in changing the world for better, makers that produce high-quality hand crafted products with ethically sourced materials and adhere to fair trade standards.
If you meet this criteria, we would love to partner with you. All you need to do is send us an email with your catalog or images of the products, prices and website or social media accounts.
We prioritize working with artisans with limited access to markets and social enterprises or community based organizations that promote basic human rights and have a focus on empowering the most marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Why is it important to carry eco-friendly and fair trade products?
It is part of our brand identity because we are convinced that fair trade and eco-friendly products are key in driving change around the world but also because it is a way to ensure product quality for our customers.
For us, it is very important to offer the option of ethical and sustainable products to the consumers, educate them about the positive effects of these products and then let them decide how they want to spend their money. Most customers will select an ethically sourced product if the option is presented.
Customers need to know that if they buy ethically made products, they are supporting business, artisans, families, communities, and are truly making a difference.
What kind of products do you carry and is it always changing?
We carry handmade products that are chic, useful and unique but also sustainable, ethical and meaningful. We also love products that are rich in culture and combine traditional handcraft techniques with contemporary or modern design.
To name some examples, you can find beautiful handcrafted tote bags made by families of indigenous prisoners in Oaxaca, Mexico to support themselves, or a collection of exotic gourmet salts inspired in pre-Hispanic ingredients like native herbs and edible insects or the beautiful Coal and Canary Candles that are hand poured and made only with high quality soy and vegetable wax.
We are constantly looking for new fashion products and living goods that have a social impact and I am sure that we will learn a lot from our customers and our catalog will be always evolving, however our commitment for fair traded and ethical products will stay consistent.
How do empowerment and diversity come into play with your business?
The products that we carry, celebrate the cultural diversity of communities around the world, and every time that someone purchase one of our products, they are empowering artisans, designers and small businesses, and we are really proud to support this economy of empowerment through our products because it is a way to drive economic growth and sustainable development.
We value and respect the differences among our customers, artisans, vendors, etc. and we look at diversity as a key for our business success, we understand diversity is essential for growth and prosperity.
BIO: Brenda Marmolejo
Brenda holds a Bachelor’s of Chemical Engineering from the Technological Institute of Monterrey in Mexico and a Master’s Degree in Quality and Safety from the University of Magdeburg in Germany. She is registered as a Professional Engineer in Alberta.
She is President of the Mexican Talent Network – AB and SK Society and board member of the Women’s Centre of Calgary and Casa Mexico in Alberta Foundation, She is also the founder of Osadia, an online fair trade store committed to empower and support vulnerable artisans, women, designers and small businesses around the world.
She currently works as Services Contract Leader for Western Canada in Rockwell Automation.