Founder & Designer of Artesano: Meet Claudia Estrada

Artesano’s stylish bags and hats are handmade in Ecuador in a fair trade manner using natural resources with sustainability in mind.

My first Artesano was a gift from Claudia’s business partner Xavier who I met when he visited Tokyo last year. Actually there were two gifts. One was a copper coloured hand woven Panama hat, a classic chic summer hat. And then there was a black tote bag, with large white stitches, made from a new material I didn’t know about called Pinatex. Both stylish and quick to become my grab and run summer items.

Since then Claudia and I had the chance to chat online and quickly found out that her values were so pure I just had to introduce her to you. A game changer in a feminine way. True to her era.

Hi, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I studied Fashion design here in Miami and graduated in 2003. I opened a clothing store back then in which I had brands like Karen Walker form Australia, Jill Stuart, Paul & Joe, Filipa K, Rachel Comey, Tufi Duek and many others….After 4 years I started my clothing line and a little after that I closed my store. Unfortunately the Miami customer wasn’t ready for it 😉 I developed my clothing line called Claudia E little by little and it evolved to be a clothing line that consisted of silk fabrics with patterns designed by me. After some years Xavier came to me to partner up and develop a hat business which was great for me because I really needed to have a partner that could do the sales aspect of a business so I can focus on the design. Then I decided to stop with my clothing line and focus on this new venture, we called it Artesano and so far it has been an awesome experience, we make a very good team and the brand is very successful! 

I understand that supporting the craftsmanship and the community are fundamental values of yours, and these are reflected in your brand. Can you tell us how your designs impact your people and maybe what your long term aims are for them? 

I really wish they are happy at the end of the day, that they like what they do and their needs are met. We have a personal relationship with most of them and if they need something we help them out with their needs, we give them a steady stream of work that helps them and their families. If they need medicine we supply that as well. 

The green Toquilla Palm is where the straw comes from. Carludovica Palmate is the Official Name of the Palm Tree. Something that Claudia is very passionate about and is the mission of Artesano is to keep old traditions alive while supporting rural communities and their families.

artesano collection.jpg

Artesano collection

Spring Summer 2018

You have certainly redesigned the incredibly chic panama hat to fit women as well as men and various occasions. I love how you included sparks of colours in some of your pieces. What inspires you when you are at your atelier? 

I get inspired by everything I see, it all depends on the moment! In one day I can make a collection, my inspiration comes from all my experiences in my life. From traveling and being in different places that have different moods, light, colors, etc to my day to day life and all the things I experience. It can be plants, the ocean, color combinations i see in nature, clothing, etc 

The real process are the people that are part of it.

Sourcing the right materials that are align with your values in terms of sustainability has added another challenge. Was it hard to find Toquilla straw and other materials that are pesticide free? How are the growing techniques on Ecuadorian farms these days compared to what we hear from many Western plantations? 

Toquilla straw is grown organically with no pesticides. It is a standard practice in Ecuador because Toquilla Straw grows in certain locations only, so there is no need to use any chemicals which works for our benefit because that is part of our mission. 

It really amazes me how your built your brand sticking to your values. How did you stumble across the pineapple material? Pinatex is a result of another game-changing woman. How did you meet? 

Yes I am very focused on this because I think it is our responsibility as business owners that produce goods to make them without harming the planet and its living things, I think it has to do with respect and being considerate. 

I actually discovered Pinatex through facebook, someone posted it and I contacted them immediately. I haven’t met Carmen but would be an honor to have the opportunity to do so. I admire her so much!

Each piece at Artesano is entirely made by hand using pesticide free locally grown Toquilla straw. The real process are the people that are part of it.

Each piece at Artesano is entirely made by hand using pesticide free locally grown Toquilla straw. The real process are the people that are part of it.

Apart from hats made from pineapples and all the lovely things that make your brand so unique, how do you live by your principles in your daily life? Can you tell us what is your morning routine and what you do to unwind? 

My mornings vary from day to day, but basically I take my kids to school in the morning and then I get back home to have breakfast (I eat usually toast with a mushroom and tomato topping and a freshly squeezed orange juice), then I try to exercise at home or do a yoga/meditation class. After that I go to the office if I have something pending to do if not I stay home and work.

What I do in my day to day life to be good to the planet or not harm the planet for that matter is I recycle and reuse certain things. I use stainless steel straws instead of plastic one use straws. I am not a vegan but I am slowly trying to get there (I am trying to reduce any animal based ingredients in my diet to try to be as much as possible vegan in the long run). I try to waste the least possible at home, mostly food because there is a lot of food waste in the USA and it really bothers me the waste culture I live in. There really is not much conscience here about that but I know there is a change in the air, people are creating more awareness about the planet and the animals and I think that is amazing… awareness is key.

Are there any places we should check out in Miami that you can recommend to us?

Places in Miami that are unique: “Bunnie cakes” (vegan and gluten free cupcakes that are beautiful and delicious believe it or not), 2nd Avenue in Wynwood which is a cool street where there are a lot of restaurants and stores and the walls are al graffiti.

I recommend “Atma” beauty salon in Miami Beach which is located in a very cute neighborhood in Sunset Harbour Miami Beach.

‘Zak the Baker” is an amazing bakery! Although not vegan, Zak (the owner) bakes all his products the “old way” with the healthiest ingredients. You should read up about him it is very interesting his story.