WHO ARE WE?
Coquette’s Armoire is an ecological lifestyle brand and design house established in 2004. We are a social business following international fair trade principles, with the clear goals of job creation and empowering women through economic independence. We are inspired by ethnic groups around the world and their handmade life using natural materials for all their life needs and we focus on bringing fresh unique collections that promote a joyful, natural, conscious, eco lifestyle.
HOW DID WE BEGIN?
Our founder, Cristina Hernández, a product designer and fine arts graduate, worked with artisans in Santa Barbara, Honduras from 2001-03, as field coordinator for the US based non-profit, Aid to Artisans through a handicraft export project. During this time she fell in love with Honduras’ artisan communities and the natural fibers of the Santa Barbara region.
When the project ended in Honduras, she moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to continue working with artisan communities through an organization supporting artisan business development.
There she fell in love with natural silk villages, pottery villages, pearl farms in HaLong bay, and embroidery villages. By June 2004 she decided to create a brand that brings to market the handmade goods villages she worked with produced.
She partnered with her mother who became the sales liaison in Honduras, and would receive shipments of handmade accessories like silk scarves, hand embroidered bags and pearl jewelry from Vietnam.
In 2007, when Cristina moved to Afghanistan to run the first Afghan Women’s Design Center through a new Aid to Artisans project, she added hand-made gold and silver jewelry with precious and semi-precious stones, working with families of artisans and jewelers in Afghanistan.
SANTA BÁRBARA, HONDURAS
By 2013, on a trip to Honduras, Cristina visited Santa Bárbara hoping to see how the artisan communities were doing, this was a turning point for Coquette’s Armoire.
Through her visit she discovered that of the 2,500 artisan women she’d worked with during the export project she had worked with 2001-03, there weren’t even 25 women in the communities she visited. Most women had migrated to the US, Spain, and the larger cities of Honduras, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Villages were full of elderly people raising the children of parents who had been forced to migrate in search of work to provide for their families.
The making and selling of handicrafts did not provide enough income for artisans in Santa Barbara. Along with a beautiful cultural heritage of the country dying, children were left abandoned to be raised by elderly grandparents and relatives, families were being separated and parents were risking their lives by migrating in search of work.
Cristina left with the commitment to make a difference, and began reviving the crafts of Santa Barbara and bringing employment back so mothers could stay home and produce while raising their children at home.
The transition from fine jewelry in silver, gold, pearls, semi precious and precious stones to natural fiber jewelry and accessories was a radical change.
TRANSITIONING TO ECO JEWERLY MADE WITH SUSTAINABLE NATURAL FIBERS
At the end of 2017, Lydia, Cristina’s mom passed away and Cristina continued to focus full time on Coquette’s Armoire with her right arm, Mixa Garcia.
However, Cristina and Mixa, continued to promote the new collections and participated in local fairs, bazaars and international trade shows like New World Crafts in Antigua Guatemala.
By 2018 and especially 2019, both retail and wholesale customers began to respond and shop the new jewelry and accessory lines out of junco, palm and tule, the three fibers Coquette’s Armoire specializes in Santa Barbara.
Though 2020 came with the Covid pandemic, we have learned to adapt and reinvent ourselves focusing more on home decor, table top items, lamp shades and gifts as jewelry and personal accessories are not selling as much as before Covid.
Currently we are slowly resuming international wholesale orders as well as local ones, collaborations like the one we did with Mignonne Gavigan are opening doors for us to continue on our focus of job creation and the empowerment of women through economic independence.
Want to partner with us? Email us: email@example.com