The chaos going on in the region of Venezuela is hard to imagine. It’s painful to think about how the current political upheaval is impacting the innocent people over there.
The world has become such a small and interconnected place, which ultimately explains how this serendipitous meeting between a young Venezuelan fashionista, during her country’s turbulent times, and me, transpired.
One Saturday night while watching CNN’s non-stop coverage about the political terror taking place in Venezuela, it would be my love of vintage jewelry shopping that would connect me to one of the loveliest vintage jewelry sellers on Etsy, Paola Sanz, who also lives in Venezuela.
The coincidence seemed ironic.
For those of you who are not familiar with Etsy.com, it is a global marketplace that connects people with independent sellers from all over the world. Buyers can find everything from unique items including handcrafted pieces to unique vintage treasures.
Paola Sanz is a 21-year-old entrepreneur now living in Caracas and is one of Etsy.com’s independent sellers. She named her charming jewelry store GrandmaBohemia in honor of her grandmother, Emira, who was Paola’s fashion inspiration.
We ended up talking not only about her store but about what was going on in her country and how this was impacting a young businesswoman, like herself. I loved chatting with Paola so much that I wanted to share her story so others could learn more about who she is and why I think both she and her store is so exceptional.
Dr. Robi: What motivated you to start your Etsy jewelry business called Grandmabohemia?
Paola: My grandma has always been a very Cosmopolitan person, a lover of all things beautiful and a trendsetter among her peers. She’s particularly fond of her jewelry, one of her most precious treasures. Since she was a little girl, her love for jewelry began to show because like her, her mom (my great-grandma), was a very elegant and fashionable lady and passed it onto her.
Dr. Robi: Your grandmother sounds like an amazing inspiration. What was your relationship like with her?
Paola: She and I have always had a very close relationship, she’s the one that first taught me how to put makeup and was also the first one to give me my first piece of jewelry. This has shaped my entire life. Her passion for fashion and jewelry surely left a mark on me, and it shows in relationship to my interests and hopes for the future.
Dr. Robi: How has she shaped your life professionally?
Paola: I am now studying fashion marketing and have always been fascinated by the way we can tell stories through fashion. My biggest aspiration in life is to become a fashion adviser and continue to inspire people to see jewelry and fashion more like an art piece than as just a simple trend, like my grandma and I do.
Dr. Robi: How did you decide to sell to an English-Speaking Market given your first language is Spanish?
Paola: I’ve been following social media forever. As a good millennial, it has surely made a strong impact on how we shop and get involved in fashion. That’s why after my grandmother left me a good part of her jewelry collection, I started thinking of ways I could bring joy to more people, in the same way, she shared her joy with me. And that’s how I found Etsy, a community of people who love vintage goods and appreciate beautiful fashion. Additionally, it’s been an amazing opportunity to raise some money to help me pay for my fashion marketing studies.
Dr. Robi: What is it like living in Venezuela for you right now?
Paola: Living in Venezuela is a challenge in and of itself. There are high levels of corruption and bad economic politics, which makes doing almost anything 10 times harder. This is why so many young people like, me, have resorted to alternatives ways to earn money that is helping us to get through this tough time in our country’s history.
Dr. Robi: Where do you get most of your jewelry for your store, Grandmabohemia?
Paola: Since people have been fleeing our country due to bad policies, many people have been forced to leave behind most of their adored possessions and only take what’s necessary. This is the sad truth. It is also why the number of flea markets has increased recently which has been a huge boost to my brand. By being able to buy very good quality jewelry at a very reasonable price, it has helped me to maintain very affordable prices at my store.
Dr. Robi: You also are helping local artists in Venezuela, too. Can you tell me more about this?
Paola: Yes, absolutely! It’s not only jewelry that is sold by their previous owners that have increased in Venezuela, but artists in the search of opportunities have also started to look for unique opportunities to sell their artwork. I have partnered with many local jewelers to help give them a platform so they can also show the world their talent.
Dr. Robi: What are your plans for the future, Paola?
Paola: As for my hopes for the future, I can only wish for a prosperous country in which I can develop my brand and become a pioneer of fashion as well as a jewelry trendsetter worldwide. My ultimate goal is to represent my culture through fashion and show the world all the extraordinary talented people Venezuela has to offer.
Dr. Robi: Thank you so much for sharing your story. Where can people learn more about you and find your fantastic store, an homage to your grandmother, on ETSY?
Paola: They can find me at GrandmaBohemia on Etsy or by clicking this link below: https://etsy.me/2Nc6E4u