My goodness, do we have a treat for y’all this week!
Our #WealthEditWednesday speaker this week is Larkin Lane founder Lark Champion, and it’s not too late to register to hear her story! Click here to register, and click here to read Larkin Lane’s brand story.
Here’s a primer for our conversation, in Lark’s own words:
I grew up traveling the world with my mom who owned (and still owns!) an international Folk Art gallery. Those were the days when you could have as many carry ons as you could physically carry—so my brother and sister and I tease my mom that she only brought us along to carry back more art! But really, she was intentionally exposing us to the world and sharing with us the art and artists that she loved.
While my mom was drawn to the paintings and sculptures in countries such as Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, and beyond, I gravitated to the textiles and the traditional clothing of these cultures. I also developed relationships with the artists and their children—some of whom I still collaborate with today.
Cultural barriers don’t really exist for children, and so from a young age, I learned to connect with people from very different backgrounds. I watched the respectful, collaborative way my mom worked with artists. I like to see that as a craft or tradition that my mom passed down to me, much like the way the artists with whom I work pass their craft on to their daughters.
These relationships are the reason why the authenticity of textiles is so important to me. I want to honor these artistic traditions and my partners the way my mom has been honoring folk artists for almost 40 years. It is also so important to me that our relationships are partnerships. It is not me helping them—we are working together to preserve textile traditions and the dignified employment of textile artisans around the world.
My mom and I still travel together and now my children come along with us. The multi-generational aspect of my business is always such a way of bonding with women artisan-entrepreneurs. The cultural differences melt away when you are all there working together, managing children and business and family. And now it’s so wonderful to see my children connect with the artisans’ children and grandchildren despite age, language, or differences in backgrounds—just as I did as a child.
I have actually learned so many business and “money lessons” from the women I work with—especially in Guatemala. I think we in the U.S. often underestimate the keen business skills of people in different cultures, especially in Latin America. They may lack some of our infrastructure and technology, but they far surpass us in cooperation among women and within a community. Their support of each other is implicit—and they just know that that is how things get done! I also admire their attitude towards working as moms. They don’t see it as “taking away” from their children or being “less than” as mothers. It is a form of love because they are providing for their families.
I could go on and on about the strength and leadership I have witnessed in the female artists with whom I work. Even if there is a “point man” of a co-operative—usually because he is the one who speaks English or has access to a phone, more often than not, it’s the wife or aunt who has the final say in business decisions. “I have to ask my Aunt” is a common phrase I hear from men when discussing pricing etc—and it always makes me smile inside.
One of the things I love most about what I do is the sharing of stories. I have a mentor in Mexico (she is a textile expert and cultural anthropologist) and she always says to me “Textiles are TEXT.” They tell the stories of our past and of who we are today. They can tell what region we are from, how we celebrate, what our role in society is, how we worship, and how we mark milestones in life. I think that is so beautiful. My hope is that with Larkin Lane, I can share these textile stories and that my clients and community will share them too—and keep them alive for generations to come.
You won’t want to miss this! See you on Wednesday!