Company Profile - Fiesta Ziesta
By Lamin Turay
After interviewing Alejandro Ramirez (the Founder of Fiesta Ziesta) about his personal journey and perspective as an entrepreneur, I felt it only right to dig a bit deeper and unpack the details of his company itself. What I found while executing this company profile interview is a layered company with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility as well as the advancement of its artisan and manufacturing partners. Alejandro has built not only a quality product company, but also a platform for the growth of makers from all over the world. Through the company's mission many will be able to flourish within the Fiesta Ziesta family. Alejandro and I were able to discuss the overall structure and direction of his company. Here's how our conversation went...
What is the mission and/or vision of Fiesta Ziesta?
The mission is to grow the company while supporting our artisans, those who handcraft that products we sell. We’re working to provide as many handcrafted products as possible to our customers, while also contributing ten percent of all net profits to paying for, developing, and providing education opportunities for our artisans. We’ll be creating scholarships and support systems that enable our artisans to grow in their careers and, hopefully, provide similar opportunities for others in the future. A lot of these guys have been working in this particular trade for many generations. They may not have any other skills aside from creating these specific products. We believe in offering them the chance to go to school and learn more about fabrics, techniques, and equipment. It’s a chance for them to gain an understanding of contemporary product development.
As the company grows are you seeking more artisans to work with? Where do you look for new talent?
We’re open to working with artisans from across the globe. We want to help them from the ground up. Things like the provision of more and better looms are something we’re already working on. If we’re talking current day specifics, we are supporting and working with primarily Mexican artisans. That being my own cultural background, I feel it’s a great way to give back. It’s become a business-driving goal for us.
What is uniquely valuable about the products that Fiesta Ziesta offers?
Let’s talk about the beach blankets first. Those are our flagship products. They're a multi-functional product that you can use in many different scenarios. You can roll them up into a bag form, they have a shoulder strap for easy carrying, and there’s a pocket built in where you can store your phone or car keys. The blankets are great for picnics, you can also use them at a music festival, some of our customers even use them as a table cloth or runner. I’ve even received messages about our customers using them as decoration on their couch or walls. They’re very versatile.
We also have the Mexican hoodies and our dog collars. Those are made different, we have great designs and better quality than any counterpart you’d find on the market. Our hoodies are constructed using recycled fibers; a combination of cotton, polyester, and spandex. They represent a sustainable product. They’re also super soft and have a fleece lining. Usually Mexican hoodies are made of wool. That makes them heavy and itchy. Ours are much more versatile, they’re more than a souvenir, they’re something you want to wear. The dog collars are unique in their own way too. They’re a combination of high quality leather and knitted fabric. We offer them in a variety of vibrant colors that reflect the beach and outdoor lifestyle.
Where are your product materials sourced from?
Everything is sourced from Mexico. A lot of materials come from a town near Mexico City. The beach blankets come from a little town in Oaxaca, while the dog collars are produced in a small town in South Mexico.
How does Fiesta Ziesta select the artisans that it works with to create the company’s products?
Trade shows have been very helpful. We met two of our artisans at a trade show in Mexico. Myself and my mom actually flew to one of the artisans home towns. We had lunch with the family, and made a really great connection. We are partners and good friends. They showed us their house and the other artisans that they are connected with. We got to see exactly where the product would be produced. We like to interact with our team and make sure we have happy workers. It was a very intelligent setup. They’re modernized, they have cell phones, internet, and are computer savvy. Sometimes technology can be a real challenge working with native artisans. A lot of them are very traditional and want nothing to do with modern tech.
One of the hardest parts of running this business has been finding quality artisans that are also understanding when it comes to modern business practices. It’s also a matter of trust. We want to work with artisans that have a desire to be a partner, and see this enterprise grow. Right now we’re working with a rotating roster of about fifteen artisans, and as I mentioned previously, the goal is to grow enough to produce enough demand for them to be full-time Fiesta Ziesta creators. We want to support them 100% through this company.
How would you describe the company culture at Fiesta Ziesta?
We’re a lifestyle brand. On the surface it’s about enjoying life whether you're indoors or outdoors, and having versatile products that you can take with you on any adventure. Internally we’re about supporting our team, and designing products that break the mold. We want to change people’s expectations around the Mexican beach blanket and Mexican hoodie. Even the dog collars are the result of challenging the status quo. Our products are multi-function and should be used in a lot of different scenarios. We want to make sure that Fiesta Ziesta looks, and is viewed as different. In these days people have a bad impression about Mexican products (cheap and bad quality) and we want to show the world the opposite. It’s not your classic or typical Mexican product company. Our designs come from the result of a lot of computer and traditional research and development, as well as field testing by our team, friends, and customers. The commitment to being different while focusing on quality for the end-user is what makes us unique in this space.
How do you decide what products will be offered to that end-user?
It’s definitely been a learning process since we’ve been in business. Some products have worked, and some have not. The beach blankets, dog collars, and hoodies have proven themselves and are our go-to offerings at this point in time. We used to offer hammocks, but they proved to be more of a challenge to sell. We like to keep our ear to the ground, and listen to what the customers are saying. We read reviews, comments, and social messages and even get ideas from our following.
The process for developing new products from start to finish is pretty complex. Typically the type of artisan that we work with will specialize in creating one very specific product. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to trust the quality of our goods. However, it also presents a challenge because we have to find multiple artisans to craft the entire line of our offerings. Since everything is handmade, sometimes we may not be able to offer a product that’s sold out or in high demand. It’s a supply and demand game that we have to constantly try to stay ahead of.
We go to the trade shows in Mexico and other locations to meet with, and get to know our artisans in order to vet them for partnership. We want to know that we’re creating products with individuals who care about the environment. Who do things like use recycled fibers, or sustainable methods in their craft. They also have to deliver on time. It’s a standard that we feel makes our brand more responsible.
What is the Fiesta Ziesta product experience?
Our customers should expect high quality product all the time. They should also feel good that they are supporting a community of makers who produce goods with their hands. Finally, they are getting versatile, multi-function goods that offer a wide array of utility. Our hoodies & ponchos for instance, are perfect for fair weather snowboarding in the mountains. They look super unique up there among the bright colored snow gear. We also offer product for the beach when you’re hanging out around the bonfire. It’s an all-season company. We’re trying to communicate that through our messaging on social media. We have pictures and videos of people enjoying the product indoors and outdoors. It’s a useful way of conveying our brand identity.
How does Fiesta Ziesta give back?
Creating consistent jobs for our artisans has been a big part of us giving back to the culture and community from which our products have been conceived. Again, after we’ve reached a point of considerable growth we’ll be providing ten percent of the company’s net profit to the education programs for those artisans as well. Aside from that, we’re creating friends! Friendship and connection is a huge deal in this business. You need to have a great relationship with your suppliers and also your customers. It’s part of the ecosystem of quality that we wish to exude.
We also pay close attention to the pulse of the customer voice. We check out all of the reviews across many different websites and try to learn from them. We listen to what the customers think about the products whether it be the construction, the design, the features, or the prices. In the future we’ll be offering a loyalty program as a way of showing our appreciation. Right now we offer seasonal discounts as well as discounts to students, or people who have already purchased our products.
Why does the world need a company like Fiesta Ziesta?
The world needs a lot of companies like Fiesta Ziesta, not just one. Things are rapidly changing, and there are a lot of topical issues related to the environment that make people more choosy about where they spend their hard-earned money. People, especially in California, are much more concerned with things like recycling, not wasting water, using their car less and less, eating organic foods, and buying products that they know are supporting socially responsible practices. That’s something that we support now, and will continue support moving forward.
Who are some companies or individuals that you would like to partner with to grow this business?
Right now we have a strong focus in San Diego, California. I recently met the owner of a company called Sun Bum, a sunscreen company. We discussed partnering with them to produce a line of beach blankets that may be co-branded. We’re also very interested in selling our products in hotels and resorts in the local San Diego community. We’re very much looking forward to partnering with resorts large or small to do private label r collaborative product sales. Finally, we’d love to continue down the music festival route. We’ve been to great music festivals like Kaboo, and would love to have a presence at a festival like Coachella or Stagecoach. That would be a great opportunity for partnership, and perhaps create product with their logo that they can then distribute to their audience. Action sports is another realm we’re looking into with a keen eye.
Where will this company be five years from now?
We’ll extend our online sales globally. We’ve already had some international sales, but we’d really like to expand that portion of the business. We have some touch in Canada and Europe, but it would be great to distribute to South America and Asia as well. That’s where we want to be from an online perspective. After that we will place a strong focus on wholesale. We want to sell our products into some large accounts. That might be boutiques, surf shops, or even hotels and resorts. Eventually we’ll want to open up our own retail shops. Having gained experience in the online and wholesale space should help us when we open the doors to our own brick & mortar locations
We look forward to the day that Alejandro cuts the ribbon on his first Fiesta Ziesta physical retail location. Learn more about this company on their website or follow them on social media for timely updates and fresh content. Let us know what you think about how Alejandro runs Fiesta Ziesta, the company's mission, and what the future holds in the comments below.