So for those who do not speak Spanish, “VOZ” means voice and part of this ever evolving project for me is to always think about how I can use it. This week I am sharing blog posts with an amazing woman and friend Jasmine Etoile Aarons, the Founder and Creative director of VOZ, a sustainable fashion brand I have shared here before. I am honored to have been named a VOZ woman and you can find my interview here. I, in return, have the good fortune of having Jasmine also agree to an interview and for those who have joined this community subsequent to my previous post,  you can learn the history of the brand. And yes, she is as beautiful inside as she is outside!

In my LUXURE section this week you will find some of the beautiful, handcrafted items from the collection with a link for you to find out more. If you chose to purchase, in honor of me being a VOZ woman, Jasmine is offering my community a 15% discount code, FRIENDOFLYN. For me this collaboration is a labor of love so no commissions!

1. Can you share how you decided to address concerns around fashion and sustainability through creating and building a clothing brand?

From a young age, I wanted to be of service to the earth and the indigenous cultures that revered her. As a designer and artist, the tools I had to offer were aesthetic in nature. When working with Mapuche weavers in Araucanía, Chile through a HAAS post graduate fellowship, I learned firsthand that providing temporary programs or one time grant assistance to the community without longterm commitment to sales and brand strategy, disappointed participating communities. One off approaches fall flat of our collaborative potential to create scalable and sustainable employment through renewable demand.

By creating my brand “VOZ” or “voice” in partnership with Mapuche artisans, we are creating an ongoing design history with seasonal trends and continuous work opportunities for weavers. For us, this is the most sustainable way to create economic development by ecological means with the artisan communities we serve.

2. So far what do you feel is your brand’s most important accomplishment?

I think our most important accomplishment is the global web of women we have built through our designs. Selling handmade VOZ pieces to thousands of powerful and inspiring women (and men) worldwide has directly enabled us to employ now over one hundred master artisans including weavers, jewelers, and seamstresses, mostly indigenous women with scarce other professional opportunities in the rural regions we operate. It is amazing that so many women, mostly mothers and many single mothers, are able to clothe, feed, and educate their families due to their work at VOZ. Most importantly, several younger women are learning the ancient techniques and symbols that are on the brink of being forgotten and returning fulltime to the profession of artisanship for the first time. Ultimately I think the most important benefit of VOZ is the cultivation and protection of cultural knowledge in our handmade textile pieces and how our creativity celebrates the identity of the masters who weaver our designs.

3. Who are the VOZ women?

VOZwomen are inspiring women and muses to VOZ, and leaders of our community. The weavers themselves are VOZwomen, and so are those who wear each piece.  The VOZwoman  is intelligent, fierce, loving, creative, and advocates for her values. She cares to make a positive impact on the planet, while enjoying and sharing beauty.

How do you use your “VOZ” in small, everyday ways?