The theme of our 2021 Sacred Spaces Virtual VIP Event was centered around our homes which have become our workplaces, schools, and sanctuaries over the past couple years. It was a time to come together and honor them even though distance separates us.
The event spanned across two days from September 24th to the 25th with one session each day that contained five classes. Every class was hosted by Nena executives and included exclusive product drops, time to shop the drops, and social media challenges to give attendees a chance to win some prizes. Read more to get a glimpse of our 2021 VIP Event.
Class 1: Follow A Bag from our Hands to Yours
It take a village to get a product from our hands to yours! To start the 2021 VIP Event, we created a video so VIP attendees could see all the steps it takes before a Nena bag arrives at their home. Watch the video below so you can see the process too.
Class 2: A Day in the Life of a Bag Maker
In the next class, David Larsen, the President of Nena & Co., introduced Cesar Najera, one of our oldest employees not by age but by experience. VIP Attendees got an inside look at who Cesar is, how we met him, and what he does as a bag maker on a daily basis.
Ali and Cony met Cesar when he was 15 years old. At the time, he helped his family out by cutting leather after school to earn money. At the age of 19, Cesar began working for us as a production coordinator and has since worked his way up to be the Manager of Sampling. While Cesar is still in his early years of life, he already has 10 years of experience in bag making.
Every day Cesar goes to work, he's motivated by new conversations, new challenges, and new designs! Watch the video below as Cesar talks through his career journey of becoming a bag maker and shows us a glimpse of his daily responsibilities to help his team create high-quality handbags and accessories for Nena & Co.
Class 3: An Exploration of Oaxaca, Mexico
Oaxaca, Mexico is known for its amazing mezcal food, indigenous cultures, rich history, art of handcrafting, and more. In this class, Ali and Jeremy took us on an exploration of this magical place by recounting their trip from the Summer of 2021. A trip where they finally communicated with Artisans face to face after a year of calls and emails only.
During this trip of a lifetime, Ali and her family immersed themselves in the culture all while Ali connected with the Artisans and oversaw the production of bags and accessories. She also connected with local Artists and Creators to seek inspiration on future product development. Watch the video below as Ali recounts her time in Oaxaca, Mexico with her family.
Ali and Jeremy also announced new silhouettes from our Mexico Collection and the launch of our NEW Nena Home Goods Collection, which features newly woven textiles used as accent pieces in your Sacred Spaces.
Class 4: Connection through Cuisine
Sitting around the dinner table in your sacred spaces can be a time to nourish the body and the soul. In this next class of our 2021 Sacred Spaces VIP Event, Ali and her mom, start with a discussion on how food can bring us together! They shared their family’s food traditions, typical foods native to Guatemala, and a few authentic Guatemalan recipes that have been passed down for generations.
They even through in some fun facts that aren't common knowledge. For example, did you know that authentic food in Guatemala isn’t spicy? It’s true! Most Central American countries don’t have spicy dishes. People just assume the food is spicy because they confuse Latin food with Mexican food.
Next, we watched two women Artisans cook authentic Guatemalan dishes like Kak’ik in their kitchen as well as hear a little bit about their family history. Watch it below.
Class 5: Creating Positive Social Impact
During every VIP Event, it has become a tradition to give the Nena community a yearly recap of our positive social impact. In this session, David filled` us in on the positive change we've made in 2021. Here are a few of this year's social impact accomplishments:
• Visited a senior living center, put together a concert, and donated Nena bags to the essential workers.
• Donated 4,000 PPE sets and other supplies to Anini.
• Provided employees with Alerta Medica, a transportation service when medical attention is needed.
• Raised $22,000 for the family of Kandace Owen, a friend who passed away from breast cancer and is survived by seven children.
• Paid for employee and family member funeral expenses due to Covid.
• Helped one of our oldest employees acquire a lot to build a home for his fiancée.
• Raised money to fulfill our Sacred Spaces initiative which helps people finish or build their homes.
Thank you so much for supporting us in our desire to give back. It wouldn't be possible without you. Take a look at our Sacred Spaces initiate in the video below:
Class 6: Touring Antigua with Ali
When you visit Guatemala as much as Ali and David, you know your way around! In this class, Ali takes us on a tour of Antigua to share the best places to eat, visit, and explore. Watch the video below and get all your travel plans for Antigua, Guatemala!
Class 7: Empowering a Community of Weavers
Empowering the Artisans and preserving the art of weaving are essential part of our mission here at Nena & Co. In this session, Ali & Cony highlight the Artisans who create our Heritage & Society Collection.
The leader of the women group of weavers, Yolanda, was the first Artisan Ali and Cony met after deciding to pursue Nena & Co. This mom and daughter duo signed up for Yolanda's class to learn how to weave. After 20 minutes of weaving two rows, Cony and Ali realized they couldn't do it. They told them they would pay them to finish the panel, and they did!
Yolanda and her community of weavers are Master Weavers who can make new and complex designs like the New Moon and Sacred Spaces panels we dropped during this event. As we've worked with them over the years, it's beautiful to see them grow and try new things. Because of Yolanda's confidence and teaching, her weavers have evolved their skillset to create custom designs. Watch the video below to get an inside look at the weavers and hear Yolanda's story!
Class 8: Introducing our NEW Curate Home Goods Collection
Ali has always considered her business a textile company more than just a bag brand. In this session, Ali and Michelle, the Director of Product Design, came together to introduce our new line of Home Goods. In this collection, we have rugs, wall hangings, pillows, and throws! Watch the video below to get all the details on Nena Home Goods.
Class 9: A Glimpse of the Techniques of Momostenango
From the beginning, Cony has been in charge of finding new weavers and techniques in Guatemala. In this class, she talks about Momostenango, a region in the highlands of Guatemala known for their felted wool look. Here, the weavers are predominantly male and only a handful of weavers in this region. Take a look at the video below to learn more about the Momostenango Collection.
Class 10: Celebrating Cultural Differences
Another country we work with to preserve the art of weaving is Morocco. In this country, we've worked with upcycled vintage rugs as well as woven leather to create beautiful bags and accessories for you all. In this class, Michelle highlights the person behind the collection in Morocco, Karim, and discusses the cultural differences working with Morocco.
Some of the cultural difference Michelle has noticed as she has worked with the Artisans in Morocco is the language barrier, the time zone, and the holidays. While it can be tricky at times working with them, we're grateful of their willingness to share their culture with us. Michelle has enjoyed learning more about their culture and sharing it with the rest of our team.
Karim, along with his family and other Artisans, are all responsible for creating our bags and accessories with that buttery soft leather. Watch the video below to learn more about the people behind our Morocco Collection.
Class 11: A Weaver's Sacred Space at Home
Maribel and Lucia are also a mother daughter duo who are the creators of our Artisan Collection. In this class, we get a glimpse of their Sacred Space at home. In latin culture, it's custom for generations to all live under the same roof even after getting married. In their house, they have multiple family members living in their home. Because of the steady income of their weaving business and Maribel's brother, who's an architect, they've been able to add onto their home little by little. Watch the video below for a tour of Maribel and Lucia's Sacred Space as well as some history about their family.
Thank You For Shopping and Supporting Handmade
Because of you, we're able to help Artisans around the world keep their tradition of weaving alive. The 2021 Sacred Spaces VIP Event was a chance for us all to come together and celebrate our sacred spaces we've come to appreciate more over the past couple years as well as those of the Artisans. May we continue to make our sacred spaces places filled with love, happiness, and acceptance.
Thank you for an amazing VIP event. We can't wait for the next one in 2022. Stay tuned for details.