The Story Behind Our New Tumbled Painthorse Leather

The Story Behind Our New Tumbled Painthorse Leather

Our mission is to design and create luxury products while celebrating different cultures and supporting Artisans around the world. Ali, the Founder and CEO of Nena & Co., introduced Mexico as a new country we work with because of the special influence it had on her life as a young girl. Since Nena & Co. grew out of a passion for her Guatemalan Heritage, she knew she couldn’t leave out Mexico as this country and its people have been good to her and her family. As a result, she went in search of talented Artisans and created the Mexico Collection!

Listening To Customer Feedback

Ever since the first launch of the Mexico Collection in 2019, Ali and the whole Nena team have appreciated the feedback that has been given from our loyal Nena & Co. community. We hear you and we see you. Since then, we've worked tirelessly to make some positive changes to this collection. We can’t wait to share the improvements and what we’ve been up to!

Nena & Co. Mexico Tumbled Leather Bag in front of a church in Oaxaca, Mexico

Introducing Our New Tumbled Leather

After months of development, we’re bringing tumbled Painthorse leather to our Mexico Collection. The process of tumbling is to maintain the strength and durability we love but soften the leather for a pre-broken in effect. This new leather is soft and flexible but sturdy as ever!

As we’ve been working with the talented Artisans in Oaxaca for nearly a year, we’ve been able to fine-tune the processes and operations of our relationship. Now we are ready to announce a 2021 pricing decrease along with the launch of our Tumbled Painthorse collection! The savings and efficiencies we have discovered in everything from packaging to shipping have enabled us to open up the Mexico Collection to additional customers’ budgets, without any change to the Artisans’ compensation.

New 2021 pricing for Mexico Tumbled Leather Collection graphic

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Ali, CEO of Nena & Co. socially distancing and talking to an Artisan in Oaxaca, Mexico outside their establishment.

Our Artisans in Mexico

When Ali first started the process of creating the Mexico Collection, she knew she needed to represent Mexico in the right way! To help her vision come to life, she was in search of talented Artisans to partner with. What better place to search for the proper talent than Oaxaca, a place known for its extraordinary rug weavers. In fact, the Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec village in the state of Oaxaca has some rich history for the art of weaving!

Just in the last 20 years, the women have made progress to rid themselves of money-stealing middlemen and have entered into the modern era where they provide their talents to the outside market. It isn't totally fixed. Being a female weaver or entrepreneur is still taboo, but they don't let it get them down.

As Ali learned of the history and culture of the indigenous people from this Zaptoec Village, she knew she was in the right place and that Nena & Co. could help! In 2019, a partnership between Nena & Co. and these weavers in Oaxaca was formed.

The continued partnership Ali and the Nena Team have with these weavers in Oaxaca is truly a collaboration. Just like all the weavers we work with, making sure they feel heard and have their culture represented well is very important to us!

We start by asking the Artisans what designs they are most proud of and meaningful to them. The only aspect of the weavings we may change are the colorways, but only with their input. This is what helps us stay true to our mission of not just working with Artisans but keeping their culture and talents alive through our bags and accessories!

Additionally, our mission doesn’t come to life without your help. While we love working with Artisans in Mexico, it’s only possible thanks to you and your love for this collection! From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for allowing us to work with these Artisans and continue giving them the reliable work and livable wages that they deserve.

Ali and Jeremy Hynek sitting outside on the grass in Mexico with their kids on their laps for a photo opportunity.

Ali’s Relocation To Mexico

Ali once said:

“I am a proud lover of Mexican culture because of the time I got to spend growing up south of the US border. My love for the people of Mexico is deep, and I've dreamt of the day I could make my way back to working in Mexico.”

When we begin working with a new country, we help Artisans not only develop product, but also learn how to create and refine the many processes needed to run a business. The Artisans we work with in Mexico have been requesting a visit from Ali for quite some time. She can better help with product development and future projects in person. Although it’s not permanent, Ali made her dream become a reality as she and her family relocate to Oaxaca, Mexico for a couple months.

Follow along on Ali’s personal instagram, @ali_hynek, as she works directly with these gifted Artisans!

More About Our Mexico Collection

When we first started working on this collection, we quickly discovered how beautiful every step of this process really is, from design all the way to the production. These weavers in Teotitlán Del Valle, Mexico, have been passing down the art of weaving for centuries: generation to generation! Although they’re now using their craft for modern bags and accessories, they keep a tight hold of their traditional methods so that the dying art of weaving continues to live on! Let’s dive a little deeper into three beautiful attributes of our Mexico Collection.

An Artisan working on crushing natural items to create colors that will be used to dye wool. She has all different colors of wool behind her hanging on the wall.

Natural Dyeing Process

After the wool has been spun into yarn, it’s time to dye it! Natural Dyes have been around since the beginning. This process uses organic materials such as plants, roots, fruit, and insects to create different colors for the yarn. Natural dyes are more expensive and harder to use but produce beautiful colors while being safer and more environmentally-friendly than chemical dyes.

After the colors are made, the wool is dropped into the color and brought to a boil in order to set the color. After it's set, it’s washed and left to dry. Now it’s time to start weaving! For more information on the wool making and dying process, please read our blog post on Symbols of Mexico: An All-Natural Story.

A beautiful Nena & Co. handbag from the Mexico Collection sitting on top of a footloom used to create textiles.

Weaving Process

The art of weaving with a footloom is not new to Nena & Co. Our Artisans in Guatemala use it as well! We feel very fortunate to help the Artisans in Mexico hold tight to their culture and its traditions of weaving too. Read more in- depth information on the Backstrap and  Loom tools, by learning more about our Pride In Our Process.

Leather Quality

Another stunning characteristic of the Mexico Collection is that it has full-grain leather which is the highest quality of leather money can buy! What makes this leather such high quality is how durable, strong, and soft it is. The term full-grain leather means the leather worker takes the entire grain of hide, with all the natural imperfections and inherent toughness from the animal and uses it to create the bag.

As each bag is worn, these beauty marks along with leather patina can create a beautiful marbling effect. The beauty marks on each bag are one of a kind and a hallmark of high quality leather! Check out this leather patina shared with us in a customer review.

Shop This Collection Now

In addition to the tumbled leather, watch for new full-panel bags and colors and symbols that have never been seen before in the Mexico collection. We can’t wait for you to see them and share our love for Mexico with more of you! Shop the Tumbled Painthorse bags available now, or sign up for email or text alerts to be the first to know when they drop next time!