July 25, 2017
I have been a fan of Nena & Co for a long time! Their bags and camera straps are just gorgeous, and the colors and prints they use are incredible. What's even cooler about Nena is it was founded by Ali Hynek, a mega boss babe and new mama of triplets! I had been following her along on Instagram for awhile and loved her sense of style in both fashion and home decor. Plus, adorable triplet pictures, are you kidding me?! I know firsthand running a business without kids can be hard, so I am beyond impressed and inspired by Ali!
I was contacted by them for a giveaway and was stoked to collab with such an awesome brand. Around the same time, I attended an event for Show me Your Mumu and ran into Ali there! Of course I knew ALL about her life via Instagram and was borderline starstruck to meet her haha. Little did I know she knew about Dazey too and watched our Insta Stories! Of course I asked her if I could feature her as a Dazey Lady.
Up until now we have featured local LA ladies I can shoot myself but am so thankful Ali took the time to snap the photos below :) She also really put the time in to thoughtfully answering our questions. She has built this successful business from the ground up and has some awesome wisdom to share!
I worked for big companies in the past in management and marketing and left knowing that I never wanted to work for a male dominated work space again. When I married my husband Jeremy, I uprooted my life in Utah and moved back to California and was working at Restoration Hardware! It was part time and so I had some time to create Nena & Co. on the side.
I never focused on wanting to own a company, rather I wanted to surround myself with things that I loved and good people. I'm so in love with my heritage of being half Guatemalan and I was so taken with the talented artisans there and I decided I needed to fit myself into the equation. I started small and created my own logo, website and would use photos that I would take with my Iphone and use it for my product page cause I didn't have a camera! My mom had contacts in Guatemala that worked with artisans and so we worked with a liaison to get product. I used IG as my only source to sell and market Nena bags and just asked friends and family to spread the word for me! I remember getting my first order from a stranger! I couldn't believe someone placed an order that I didn't know. It was working! My business was growing!
Oh man...it is a BIG process! We have two main collections; The One-of-kind collection which is made up of "found" hand woven fabrics that we hand pick. The Artisan collection is made up of newly woven fabric which allows us to give sustainable work to weavers as well as leather craftsman. Because I believe in bring a fair trade company we decided the only way to truly know that the people making your goods are being treated and paid fairly is to manufacture ourselves. There is no middle man. We are it. So Nena & Co. has its own master craftsman shop in Antigua Guatemala where we make ALL of our bags. The fabrics are usually made in peoples homes by women and we make it as easy as possible for them to work with us. Everything gets shipped to our warehouse in Utah where we photograph every single item in-house and list it on our website. This is the REALLY simplified version of course!
Like most industries you have people that want to do what you're doing and so Nena & Co. has to constantly be evolving. We have to be more creative in our designs and marketing. We have to have better customer service and processes. So I try and set a high standard for myself and hire people that can do what I'm doing but better!
Lows are always when things go wrong. I remember the first time I got a shipments of bags that were ALL made wrong. I had been trying so hard to set a high standard and the quality of these bags were not meeting it. But it was a good lesson on being creative. that's when I decided to have my first warehouse sale. It was the first time I had opened my doors to the public and I was so worried that no one would show but we literally had a line around the block! Women were even excited just to meet me and congratulate me on how far I'd come. Hearing people tell me they had followed Nena & Co. right from the beginning was so touching!
I'm not as on top of life as I wish I could be and it is definitely hard! I couldn't just abandon Nena & Co and all the people it now supported when my babies were born so I planned that I would have to let other people help me. We went through a lot of people in our office until we got the right ones and I was dealing with that right up until I had the babies. But lucky for me I work with my mom who never gave up on helping me create a good team. I was on bed rest for the last two months of my pregnancy and she would come to help me get things done around my house and then give me an update on people she had interviewed. She now manages all our Nena's manufacturing and has been a life saver! I also planned to hire a full time "house hold assistant" and she's been with me for almost a year! My number one most important role is to be a mother, so I'm with them every waking minute of their lives. But when the nap or sleep, i'm working and my assistant is helping me around the house or grocery shopping. My babies nap about 4 hours during the day and are asleep by 6:30 PM so that gives me time to get most of what I need to done at work.
I see us growing by adding more artisans from around the world!
I think being a "Dazey Lady" means to stick to your values and your vision. There is something so pure about staying true to yourself and that is so attractive in a person.
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