Hola! I'm Erika
A big dreamer from Mexico. I founded Koua 5 years ago and I want to tell you the story of I got started, all the ups and downs and my experience of being an entrepreneur coming from overseas to London to achieve a dream but mainly why I haven’t quit my dream and It will be better.
After I finished my master’s degree in Fashion Marketing in London, I held onto the idea of staying in the city of my dreams working in the fashion industry. After doing 4 internships in Luxury brand management, digital marketing, clothing wholesale and video marketing I started applying for jobs in London but after being rejected many times and my visa ran out of time and I came back home.
The only thing I knew at that stage in my life is that I wanted to start a fashion brand which promoted the Mexican culture to give economic opportunities to people in local towns and portray their art in my items but I wanted to do it in London and that sounded really difficult and very expensive.
I started looking for local producers, makers and other people involve in the same industry which guide me on my path. I developed the business plan and created the first video campaign something that was supposed to go at the end of any collection but clearly I have no idea of how to do it. During this time in Mexico, I met people who believed in my idea and helped me to start.
It took me one year to come back to London with some fear of not making it but I wouldn’t know until I try it. I exported hundred of pieces of handicrafts that I started selling in markets around London with the aim of testing the market, generate some quick income to invest in my fashion brand and to potentially sell all those home-decor and arts online too. That year I launched my first collection in a luxury hotel in the West London all my friends went to support, good memories to keep. Months later I recorded my fist video campaign in one of my favourite Mexican clubs in London ‘Tonteria’ Chelsea with an excellent team behind. I was so happy to see the positive reaction and feedback, I was so proud of all the work done by me and the team. After 3 years selling in markets and online, I decided to accelerate my business joining forces with a wrong business partnership (well I didn't know!) that taught me of how not to do business. A big lesson that also taught me that business partnerships as friendships and relationships come from the heart, from sharing the same values and the same purpose in life.
Well…I would never finish if I tell you all the ups and downs, appreciating all the mistakes as the most important assets in my company. I also need to say that I have met people who has taken me to the next level, who trust me and I think that worths more.
After my university awarded me on 2019 as the alumnus of the year for my entrepreneurship journey and the values behind my brand, it gave me the confidence to start once again.
Then corona happened and the fashion industry was one of the industries that experienced biggest changes and a huge transformations. Time to take advantage of if! Retailers that closed their shops started returning me the product, consumers where more vulnerable in those times, social movements took force and the world was being more conscious the way we consume.
I got into meditation, healing process and therapy almost every week, this is how I could survive a lockdown in London by myself, working on my inner self, re-designing my business model while asking Universe to send me a clear sign of what was my purpose in life, cause so far the path has been extremely complicated. It was after one year that I could come back to Mexico to see my friends and family. It was funny how some of them was looking at me as if I just scape from jail and being mentally affected by experienced isolation for one year. People can call me crazy but that year was one of the best year’s of my life. I’m so grateful!
It was in San Cristobal de las casas, Chiapas where I arrived just for couple of days to buy some textiles for my new collection and to visit some of the women who helped me in my first collection. My friend Paulina, who is doing a Phd in Photography of indigenous women in old times and who I met nearly 30 year ago came with me to this trip. Both with different personalities but same values and the same passion of applying our knowledge to help people in local towns.
She left after one week and I decided to stay I didn’t know why but that city had something. I cried almost everyday since I arrived just because of everything, the stories of the difficult life the people have there, the situation women face in the country, the poverty levels but also the beautiful vibe of that city. That trip was one of the best trips in my life, I met the most beautiful people, with good intentions, with lot of love to share, people who also believe in their dreams and who also want to see a change in the world. I remember talking to one of them she asked me if I wanted to share a bit of my personal life and the reason I was there, I started crying while telling her my story and she told me, Erika I think this is your mission in life, that was it, the signal I needed. I spent one month working in my collection with a family in Zinacantán, one of the indigenous towns in the highlands of Chiapas, I made such a nice connection with them, they made me feel part of the family, those beans which cheese they shared with me sometimes were the best lunch ever! That just reminded me my grandma’s house in a small town in Guerrero.
And why not making a dream come true with one of the girl’s of the family which was the model for the first shooting of the new collection in one of my favourite hotel in San Cristobal. That day was an special one for her family that came with us and for me and my friend Paulina who now is a key part of Koua’s team and I’m extremely grateful to have her in my life.
Between laughs and jokes and hard work it was difficult to left them but I promise I will come back.
And here it is… the new collection with all the love and transparency that you guys deserve to know .
London, October 2021.