Hi, my name is Jess Bercovici and I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I first came to Guatemala in 2007 as an archaeologist working on a Pre-Classic Mayan site on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala near the Mexican border called La Blanca. It was at this time that I not only fell in love with the vibrant textiles throughout the country, but also the people. After working on the project for three consecutive summers, I committed to starting a brand with a few artisans I had met over that time. Stela 9 was officially established in 2010. With a background in Anthropology, it was a natural transition to focus on cultural preservation through creating modern, wearable handbags and clothing.
I just want to take a moment to stand on my little metaphorical soap box here in Antigua, Guatemala. Lately I've had quite a few people ask me what "percentage of my revenues go back to the artisans?". I think this is a fairly recent marketing tactic and verbiage that has been circulating in the fashion industry over the past few years. Here at Stela 9 i want to be much more transparent and break it down for you in simpler terms. We don't have to donate proceeds or give revenue back because we've already fairly paid the makers to produce the product. I then build in the minimum margin to sustain my business. I don't have any staff on payroll or sell wholesale anymore so that I can give you, the customer fair prices as well. We don't even pay rent for the boutique because of the Airbnb behind the house. Every profit from Stela 9 goes back into the business. This in turn creates sustainability not only for Stela 9 but also for our Guatemalan artisan partners so that they have consistent work. Did you know that when you purchase from a company that sells wholesale you're getting a product that is marked up 5 to 6 times the cost of making it? This is because as a wholesaler you can not undercut your retailers and this is why I stopped selling wholesale because I felt like I was cheating you; my customers. We don't give out 50% off coupons anymore because we would literally lose money on our products, instead our products are 50-60% off of what they used to sell for. Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you have any other questions about how Stela 9 operates please feel free to contact us!