I interviewed Manuel, one of the founders of The Latin Boutique, about Mexican art, Cinco de Mayo and what inspired him to start his business:
Hi Manuel, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the Latin Boutique?
I am from Venezuela and I’ve been living in Manchester for three years now. I came over the UK to study and then I decided to run my own business here.
I started the Latin Boutique in 2015 with my sister Vanessa who currently lives in Mexico. Our aim is to offer authentic Latin American handcrafts in the UK. We sell online on thelatinboutique.com and in trade fairs. We work directly with local artisans and ensure that we are selling products we would use ourselves. Also, we want people feel that they are purchasing something with a story, something made with skill and care and not mass produced in countries like China.
Why did you start your business?
We have noticed that in Europe over the last few years the interest for Latin American culture has been growing rapidly. For example, the number of mexican and peruvian restaurants has been constantly increasing as well as salsa classes and other latin music lessons and venues.
On the other hand, We have been traveling for years all around Latin America and we particularly love exploring street markets located in remote villages where unique handcrafts can be found. We like these handcrafted products a lot, they have been present in our lives since I can remember.
Unfortunately not everyone has the chance to travel so far away, so we would like to bring them to people here in Europe.
We help the local artisans promote their goods and we’re finding customers for them. Except for that we aim to popularize Latin America as a tourist destination and we would like to encourage people to discover that amazing part of the world.
Tell us about some of the artists you represent/sell work for over here
In case of Venezuela for example, we sell products from two indigenous tribes called “Wayúu” and “Warao”. They are settled in the north west and north east of the country respectively. Each one of these products comes with the name of the artisan who crafted it, so this establishes a special link between the producer and the consumer. Also we work with them under a fairtrade scheme.
It’s coming up to Cinco De Mayo, what’s the significance of it?
Cinco de Mayo represents the celebration of the “Battle of Puebla”, which took place in the city of Puebla, on the 5th of May 1862, when the Mexican army defeated the French.
It is so important for Mexicans, because it was the first time that their military managed to beat a foreign stronger and better prepared army.
How is it celebrated in Mexico?
It is heavily celebrated not only in Mexico but in the U.S. as well by mexicans living over there. They remember the courage of soldiers who defeated French army and they call it “Día del orgullo Mexicano” (Day of mexican proud). They organize parades in different cities, people wear traditional costumes and they even make beauty contests to choose the “Miss Cinco de Mayo”. There are also Mariachis and “Bandas Mexicanas” playing music from different regions of Mexico. They don’t have a special meal for this date, however for Mexicans a celebration without food is not a celebration. Therefore, they prepare a variety of typical dishes depending on the region such as: Botanas, Mole poblano, Pozole, Chiles en nogada, Ensalada de Nopales, and so on.
Visit the Latin Boutique online at www.thelatinboutique.com