It’s not often that you find an intersection between makers all the way from high-end designers to local artisans and major global markets, but that’s exactly what Alegreea has helped create.
“I missed Mexico so much, my way to be in touch with Mexico was to create a company to sell Mexican products to the U.S. market,” Peraza says. That experience with high-volume imports from Mexico into the U.S. gave her insights into both markets. Peraza learned quickly how to negotiate the differences between the U.S. and Mexican business cultures, and became a translator of sorts between the two business climates.
She developed relationships with small stores, but also large retailers like Bloomingdales, Pottery Barn, and The TJX Companies, which owns T.J. Maxx and Homegoods, among other retailers.
She’s brought that expertise with her to Alegreea, forging new partnerships both big and small, and helping makers access global markets. “Alegreea is a conscious business, a purpose-driven business,” Peraza says. “Our purpose is to enable entrepreneurs, designers, and artisans who create the best products in Mexico, to access the biggest market in the world. We designed so it can be a win-win for every stakeholder in the ecosystem.”Angelina, one of the artisans working with Alegreea, is an example of that principle in action.
“A few years ago I went to the mountains in Mexico to do a training with artisans,” Peraza recalls. “Angelina was one of them. For many artisans, selling products is their survival. Most of them are women, and they’re in a tough place. They have to take care of their families, they have to make these products, and then walk - sometimes an entire day - to sell something. Sometimes that’s why they sell under cost, because they need money to feed their families.”
Angelina embroiders wool, a traditional craft in her community. She recalls one day when one of her sons approached her and said he was embarrassed to go to school because his shoes had holes in them. Angelina said she would walk all day to sell something in order to buy him shoes, and she did. But, Peraza points out, that’s not an efficient or sustainable way to accrue business.
“Angelina is one of millions of women doing similar work,” Peraza says. “The only way we can help the million other artisans is by being a channel for them to sell their products.”
Alegreea works with Angelina and others to help them sell efficiently at a fair price. That’s part of a six to 12 month process the company commits to with each new maker it partners with. During that time, Alegreea works with each maker on consulting and bringing them into the website.Because international shipping expert FedEx is a strategic partner of Alegreea, and offers special rates, makers don’t have to funnel all of their profits into the logistics side of their work.
Alegreea’s makers come from all over Mexico, and work in a variety of mediums. From cufflinks to earrings and scarves to pottery, the site has something for everyone, and encompasses the work of professionally-trained, high end designers as well as local, rural artisans like Angelina.
Alegreea takes its partnership with its makers and its customers seriously; while other companies may sell Mexican products, no one else is focused on finding the best of Mexican craftsmanship and bringing it to a customer base that might never otherwise see it.
Alegreea spends as much time selecting makers as it spend working with them to help their products
“The makers we work with come from all over Mexico,” Peraza says. “ We find authentic, very unique products, from the remotest areas to the big cities where the highest end designers are. Alegreea is literally our love for Mexico, our pride for having one of the richest, most flavorful, most colorful, richest traditions in the world.”