An Interview with Hecho and Co.
Hecho and co has been on our radar for quite some time. When we first contacted them they were just launching their Oaxaca-to-Vancouver based textile business and weren't ready for stockists yet, so we waited and waited... and it has been well worth it! Nearly a year later, we are so proud to have their beautiful, fairly sourced woven wares for sale in Picot.
A unique business for so many reasons, Sisters Henrieta and Sam, built Hecho and Co on the pillars of connection and relationships rather than profit - something not so mainstream in the fashion and textile industry. This focus has served them well, and we can't wait to see what comes next from these girls and their weaving partners!
Picot: Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
Sam & Henrieta: We are two sisters born and raised in Vancouver, BC. Henrieta has a degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Queen’s University and Sam has a degree in International Relations and Education from UBC. During the day, Sam is a full-time elementary school teacher and Henrieta is Head of Operations at Adbusters Magazine. Our love of making art and design began when we were both just kids. Hecho and Co. started as a project that would allow us to combine this love with our interest in travel and ethical textiles. All of the products we offer are handmade using materials and techniques that are indigenous to the region.The foundation of our business is the relationship with the family of weavers we work with in Oaxaca, Mexico. We are so happy to be supporting their ability to make a living with the traditional knowledge and skills of their family. Without these relationships, our business would not exist.
Picot: What challenges have you overcome that lead you to a deeper understanding or a shift in perspective for you?
Sam & Henrieta: Since neither of us has a background in business or design - everything has been a challenge! Instead of getting frustrated or intimidated by it, we’ve taken everything on as a learning opportunity. Aside from the operation of our business, we’ve also been challenged by the competition of fast fashion. Large companies can make products faster, at a lower price point, and with more variety. I remember watching the fashion industry documentary “The True Cost” in which a textile producer in India was talking about how their buyers would set the price of their goods or threaten to leave. The producers have no choice but to see their profits shrink in order to keep the business of these large companies. We want to operate under a different business model where the weavers’ livelihoods are given priority over low consumer cost. We’re still a very small business so we have the flexibility to experiment with more ethical models of business. It’s pretty empowering to be able to create the reality you want to see in textiles and fashion.
Picot: What makes you most excited about the evolution of your business?
Sam & Henrieta: Like we mentioned earlier, we both love to make art and are very interested in design. One of our goals moving forward is to take on more design risks and continue to make things that we would love to use and wear ourselves. One of our favourite things about the business is the relationships we have with the artisan families. As our business grows, I’m excited to see these relationships strengthen and deepen. These families have so much knowledge about the craft and design of textiles. We can’t wait to create new and exciting things with them!
Picot: How does the collaboration process work with the weavers in Oaxaca?
Sam & Henrieta: Every family of weavers in Oaxaca specializes in a specific fiber or technique. We consider what they are already making and think of how it could be translated to suit our personal taste and aesthetic. In the example of the Mitla scarf, we took a pre-existing design that they were already weaving and developed customized dimensions and colour palettes. Throughout the process, the weavers are really generous with their knowledge of material, colour and technique and it really helps to shape our design in a positive way.
Picot: What first sparked the interest in sourcing textiles?
Sam & Henrieta: I’ve always been fascinated in the way clothing can affect how we carry ourselves and the way we feel about ourselves. It’s an art form that runs deep into the cultural history of the weaver and can shift the wearer’s mood and self expression. That, to us, is infinitely fascinating.
Picot: Do you have a mentor?
Sam & Henrieta: Our dad built a business based on honest and reliable relationships, so we often turn to him for advice. We’re also lucky enough to be surrounded by a group of super talented, driven and hard-working female entrepreneurs. It’s so good to be able to hang out and share struggle and success stories. I don’t think we would have had to the courage to start our business if these awesome ladies didn’t do it first.
Picot: What have you learned from the time you started this endeavour to now?
Sam & Henrieta: Running your own business means that you will always feel like you should be working harder, even when you physically can’t. Constantly running at 100 inevitably leads to burnout, and it’s no fun.
One thing that we’re learning to remind ourselves of is that growth takes time, and to recognize the effort that was put into small achievements.
Picot: Has there been a time where you were unsure about your business, or afraid to move forward?
Sam & Henrieta: We are a relatively new business (only going into our second year), but I don’t think we have ever been afraid to move forward. From time to time we have simply been unsure of which direction to go. I think this might be the perks of working in a partnership, especially one with your sister; we are constantly trying our best to keep each other excited and motivated about what we are doing.
Picot: What is a key defining characteristic or choice you have made in developing your business, and why?
Sam & Henrieta: I think a key characteristic in shaping our business is that we decided from the beginning to not be profit-driven. This may seem counter-intuitive to the general purpose of a business, but we’ve always thought of the business as a learning opportunity and a creative outlet. This single decision has allowed us to prioritize our relationship with our weavers and given us the creative freedom to take greater risks. It’s very interesting how taking money out of the equation makes your values and priorities much clearer.
Picot: How do you find working as sisters?
Sam & Henrieta: Working as sisters has allowed our business relationship to start on a really solid foundation. We know where the other is coming from without too much explanation and have a deep understanding of each other’s design aesthetic. With that said, doing Hecho has also pushed us to better communicate and work with each other in a capacity that we’ve never had to do before.
Picot: What are you most proud of?
Sam & Henrieta: It feels a little early in the game to be proud. We honestly just feel extremely thankful for how generous the weavers in Mexico have been with imparting their knowledge and sharing their passion with us and how supportive local businesses like Picot have been of our little project.
Picot: Are you weavers yourselves? Or do you do a craft of any sort?
Sam & Henrieta: Sam has some experience weaving on small looms and is looking to expand her knowledge in Mexico this year on the large pedal looms. In addition to weaving, she dabbles in a variety of forms of visual storytelling - drawing, painting, photography, foraged plant sculptures. Henrieta spends anytime free time she can find illustrating.
Picot: Can you tell us 5 things people generally don’t know about you?
Sam & Henrieta:
We love mustard.
We are second-generation Chinese Canadians- and darn proud of our giant, rowdy family in Vancouver.
We once had a pet chinchilla named Skittles.
Sam has a lot of non-craft hobbies such as snowboarding, rock climbing and mountain biking. Henrieta’s include exploring the cocktail and coffee scene in Vancouver.
We both secretly want to be musicians and are still waiting for musical talents to suddenly enter our bodies one day. One can dream.