‘My loss was the trigger for me to change the direction of my life’

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How Corinne Boursetty quit her job as city analyst to start ethical fashion brand Zocalo Chic – in her own words


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Corinne Boursetty in her Kentish Town flat and design studio. Photo: Andy Stewart

Mexico is a vibrant and beautiful country. I have been travelling back and forth since I was 19 and have always found it an inspiring place to be. I love roaming around the market places, which are bursting with colour and bustling with people. The bold colours and vivid designs on my bags are an attempt to demonstrate and represent this energy. My brand is named after the central square in Mexico City.

The vibrant colour and expression in Mexican art has inspired me for years. My Kentish Town flat is coated in pieces I have gathered on my trips to Mexico. It all started in 1999 when I was standing in an art exhibition in Paris. I remember being completely enamoured with the work of Frida Kahlo. Her work was such a celebration of Mexican culture and tradition and simultaneously told such a personal story of suffering. She used the negative aspects of her life to create something beautiful, something positive.

There is such a healthy and inspiring depiction of life and death in traditional Mexican art. Following my father’s death last year I have found a certain degree of solace in this mentality towards death, namely, in its incorporation and necessity to life. In many ways, my loss was the trigger for me to change the direction of my life and pursue something more meaningful to me.

Zocalo Chic is an ethical brand, fair and beneficial to all parties. This is of fundamental importance and increasingly hard to come by in an industry that is so concerned with mass production and mindless consumption. After personally designing each bag, they are individually produced in Mexico and then sent back to London to be sold.

Every bag has been woven by loom in a family home in Oaxaca. It’s a sparsely populated mountainous region in south-west Mexico which has managed to maintain its indigenous people and culture. The bags are generally woven in the evening, after a day of farming. They provide an additional source of revenue for the families and are also a way of encouraging and sustaining the traditional technique of weaving. They are paid a fair wage and are regarded as skilled artisans. Each design is made entirely out of recycled materials. This is fashion with a soul: it’s essential to do business like this.

I hope to set up a cooperative in Oaxaca. The aim is providing a good source of income for the locals. At some point I’d love to set up a weaving workshop in London as well. I hope to invite Zocalo weavers in Mexico to come to London to work with us here. It will be a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other’s cultures.

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Find out more about Zocalo Chic here.

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