When Things Fall Together: Bogota >> Houston
Today I moved from Bogotá, Colombia to Houston, Texas. Jimmy has everything to do with it, but in a way that you wouldn't probably assume.
During the last four months of back and forth between the US and Colombia, my home for the past 5+ years, I had a "lightbulb moment" that led to today.
It happened as I was spending time with a dear friend between Thanksgiving and Jimmy's burial at Arlington in December - when I was in a really raw and dark place. This friend, a fellow Texas expat living in Bogota, lost her dad when she was only 15. On top of being one of the kindest, warmest people I know, she has been in my shoes and made me feel like I was going to be okay again. Her (new!) husband is equally as warm and welcoming - kindness that I really needed.
We were hanging out in their living room after dinner one night when we started to talk about their over-sized decorative pillow that has a cool, modern lattice design. It felt nice to talk about normal things again, especially things I'm passionate about. For me, diving into work has been my saving grace. It keeps me sane at a time when it would be really easy to lose my shit.
Turns out the pillow is handmade by Colombian artisans which led us to talking about the crazy amount of skill and craftsmanship that rarely makes it outside of Colombia's borders, that the major limiting factor is design aesthetic and finding the right market.
Next thing you know the lightbulb went off and we had a new business idea: to create a line of home goods that combines modern designs with old world techniques, all the while supporting artisans.
The timing of our idea was nothing less than serendipitous: the annual Colombian artisan fair was starting the following week, the perfect place to scout new artisan partners. Over the course of the next month we met with over 50 artisan groups from all parts of Colombia. In the end, we selected five with whom to work and started production immediately on our new line of pillows, throws, rugs and baskets.
At the same time this was happening the best US-based trade show for home goods was due to take place in February in NYC. The timing was brilliant, yet again: we could take our samples to New York and test the market for our new idea.
Then things started to fall together.
We setup a booth at the trade show and it far exceeded our expectations: we doubled our sales goals and set up 20 retail store accounts from San Francisco to Nantucket. I was stunned.
One final piece of the puzzle then came together: a friend told me about a new space that was opening up right next to her boutique, in a co-op with other women-business owners, located in one of the best areas of Houston.
Had you asked me 6 months ago if I would ever live in Texas again the answer would be "probably never". I had been in Colombia for several years, but was looking to land in either NYC or SF once I decided to move back.
So here we are.
I hastened my timeline to move out of Bogotá because...well, life is short and sometimes you just have to let things fall together.
If I've learned anything, it's that you never know where life will take you and sometimes when you're presented with what feels like a great opportunity you just have to dive in head first. Life is short and it's meant to be lived.
This could all be a huge f***ing failure. Or it could be a huge success. I don't know, but it doesn't hurt to try.
We are setting up the retail space in Houston at 3701 W Alabama, with both of the brands I work with: Azulina Home and MARIYA. We'll have a launch party in early April to which I am inviting every single one of you.
None of this would have come together had it not been for Jimmy. Little did he know that he would be the reason I moved back to Texas, started a new venture and opened a retail space all in a matter of four months. Thank you, Jimbo. I owe this all to you.