Meet Daniela Corzo who's bursting bubbles & bridging worlds with her hammock & textile brand Textitlán
When you hear Daniela Corzo’s story, it’s difficult not to believe in the magic of destiny, or at least in some kind of favorable planet alignment that helped piece the diverse pieces of Daniela’s meaningful mosaic together. Born and bred in Mexico City, Daniela’s upbringing wasn’t particularly steeped in arts and crafts, yet she grew up being fascinated by design and fashion, so much so that she had planned to move to San Diego to study fashion marketing after high school.
That was the first time fate decided otherwise. Daniela’s father, who had studied at Mexico City’s prestigious Iberoamericana University, suggested she take a look at her own Mexican options before running away abroad, and during the subsequent textile design course Daniela's passion for fashion design and conscious consumption really took flight.
As part of her studies, Daniela went to visit indigenous communities in Zinacantan in rural Chiapas, a Mexican state bordering Yucatán. She worked with the community on developing new products using their ancestral techniques of pedal and waist looms, and her life was completely transformed.
“Suddenly the bubble had burst. I was faced with the profound disparities between my life and the life the artisans were leading in Chiapas, living very simply and often in what we would consider poverty. I immediately felt like my place was there, working to bridge the gap between them, their art and their lives, and us consumers living in cities in the rest of the country and even the world. I just didn’t know how to do that at the time.”
After her degree, Daniela worked for a while with bigger companies, but she felt increasingly alienated from her true self. She struggled to find motivation in her everyday work, and during this very personal search, she kept having flashbacks to her time with the artisans in Zinacantan. “I realized one way of bringing our worlds closer might be to create something with them and try to sell it in the city and even outside of Mexico.”
Then, an episode that had happened to her a couple of years previous somehow surfaced from her subconscious. Daniela was driving around a fairly unfamiliar part of town on her way to a date, when she had stumbled upon Calle Textitlán, literally “Textile Way”. Was it a coincidence that out of all the streets in Mexico City, a metropolis of 8.5 million people, she would drive exactly past that one? The date didn't lead to anything but that street name certainly planted a seed, because when Daniela finally took the plunge, left her job and launched her brand of textile products, that’s the name she chose for it.
Textitlán was born with the very essential need of erasing geographical and societal boundaries, showing the world the stunning works of Mexican craftsmanship, while exposing artisans in rural areas to new ideas, designs, and audiences.
Wanting to skew away from obvious textile hotspots like Oaxaca and Chiapas, Daniela started looking at techniques and makers communities from the south of Mexico, in states such as Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Yucatán. Hammock weaving seemed to be preponderant, and even though it was a new product for her, Daniela dove right in.
Though she had no certainty hammocks would sell, she started thinking about ways of customizing the traditional designs and came up with the idea of adding free-flowing macramé fringes to the edges, creating beautiful designs at times hypnotic and exuberant when seen flowing in the wind.
Destiny struck its final, perfectly-timed blow during a research trip to San Angel market in Mexico City, where the huge variety of Mexican cultures and crafts all huddle together under one roof, competing for every visitor’s attention. Daniela was searching for inspiration for new hammock designs, her eyes lingered on vibrant colors, her hands felt the different texture of various kinds of fabric, her mind spinning with the creative possibilities before her eyes. Somehow a precise sequence of lefts and rights amid the tens of stalls landed her by Elia’s fabric and textile shop. Daniela was immediately hooked.
“I don’t know if Fate or someone else heard me, but I immediately started working with Elia and her whole family, and slowly but surely the orders started coming and then increased very fast. Now I am working with several families of artisans around Campeche and Chiapas, supporting tens of people to preserve their heritage and traditions.”
While a solo female entrepreneur in Mexico is now a pretty common sight, Daniela’s young age is still often a surprise for artisans when she starts collaborating with them, and when it comes to the more daring hammock designs, she sometimes has a hard time convincing artisans to experiment with new techniques and products they are unfamiliar with. As such, her work involves a great deal of training, especially in macramé knotting techniques, which are not so common in these areas, and a lot of prototyping with the artisans, who nonetheless invariably end up very excited about the unexpected results of so much experimentation.
“That is what gets me up in the morning and through the stressful, busy times: the look of pride and accomplishment on an artisan’s face when they’ve finished a commission, especially if they were dubious of it at the beginning. Being there with them at that moment, being able to physically hand them cash for the work they did, and knowing that money will make a real difference in their livelihoods, is an unparalleled feeling.”