Celebrating Oaxacan Culture, One Thread at a Time: Zakruu’s Slow Fashion Revolution
When a company creates beautiful products that make people feel good, it’s something to celebrate. When a company makes beautiful products and celebrates its roots, it’s something to proudly share with the world.
That’s what Zakruu is all about.
Zakruu is a family-owned business started by indigenous women. The gorgeous clothing and accessories they create are inspired by their love for their Oaxacan culture.
Zakruu was founded by a family of three sisters and their mother in Los Angeles. The brand honors its indigenous roots with a twist of modernism, explains one of the founders, Lily Martinez.
“It really all started with a deep love for their Oaxacan culture,” she told FIERCE.
The inspiration for Zakruu has always been their desire to stay true to their roots. And they want to celebrate that cultural connection with others. However, the actual idea to launch a business based around this mission didn’t take root until the pandemic in 2020.
Transforming pandemic hardships into an opportunity to give back
“Our mom, also one of the founders, lost her job and spent her quarantine days in Oaxaca, Mexico. She noticed artesanos were also feeling the consequences of the pandemic, so we decided to collaborate,” Martinez shared.
Zakruu, which is Zapoteco for beautiful, embodies beauty inside and out — from the colors, fabrics, patterns, and styles to how these breathtaking goods represent Oaxacan traditions.
However, this is not an opportunity that the Zapoteca women behind Zakruu take lightly. They believe wholeheartedly in the importance of slow fashion and the importance of celebrating where you come from.
The brand focuses on fair trade, sustainable fabrics, and ethical production while allowing others to feel connected to Zapotec culture. In addition, every year, Zakruu gives back to our Oaxacan pueblo by donating food and purchasing toys and bikes during “Dia del Niño.”
But it wasn’t always easy to get their small business off the ground and achieve the aesthetic they envisioned for their unique products.
“Since our ideas for the clothing were a bit modernized, several artesanos turned us down for customized pieces since they didn’t have the colors or patterns we needed,” Martinez said. “This was a blessing in disguise because when we finally found the few artesanos that said yes, the products came out beyond what we hoped for.”
Clearly, launching any small business during a pandemic came with its own challenges. But Martinez and her family see it as a great gift and opportunity above all else.
Indigenous culture empowered them to pursue their entrepreneurial venture
The team behind Zakruu credits their indigenous culture for their ability to weather those storms and stay true to their entrepreneurial mission.
“Oaxacan culture centers around communal living and giving,” Martinez explained. “Growing up, we were fortunate enough to witness family members exemplify entrepreneurial skills when they would sell their tortillas (tlayudas), chapulines, or nicuatoles.”
“Oaxaquenos are known for being artists and business-driven. [It’s something that] has always been with us but even more so when the indigenous and Latino community uplifted us.”
While it might seem like the Zakruu team has its vision, mission, and creative process all figured out, it was a journey to get there. This is why the founders urge other aspiring Indigenous and Latina entrepreneurs to stay the course, even when they experience doubt or roadblocks.
“None of us technically knew what we were doing at the start of this journey,” they said. But that did not stop them; they continued working through the obstacles. “Even now, as we continue to grow, challenges arise, and we have to find a solution every step of the way. Have faith, be consistent, and be willing to take a risk.”
Ultimately, for the Zakruu team, if you want to experience success and achieve your goals, you must be willing to take a chance and take action.
“Hay que tomar acción!” has been their guiding quote and words to live by.
“Our mom grew up in a small village in Oaxaca where simply taking action made all the difference. If you have an idea or dream, don’t wait until you have everything figured out; just take the first step and take action.”
Today, their actions are helping them achieve their dreams and serve their indigenous community. Again, it’s not an opportunity that the family behind Zakruu takes lightly. “We are proud to represent our Oaxacan roots and would like to thank our community for allowing us to represent indigenous faces in fashion,” Martinez told FIERCE. Their mission and products genuinely embody what Zakruu means – beauty, inside and out.