News

By Eva Recinos

By Eva Recinos

Read Full Article on GOOD

 

Three months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, Matilsha Marxuach could finally turn on the lights in her San Juan shop.

The Caribbean island was still slowly recovering from the onslaught of two Category 5 hurricanes — Irma and Maria — that struck the region. Although the storms hit in August and September 2017, it took until December for power to return to Marxuach’s retail store. While the entrepreneur waited to reopen her store, Marxuach saw firsthand the impact of losing electricity. San Juan became “ghost town-like,” she says. “You don’t know, until something like this happens.”

 

 

Located in the heart of Old San Juan, Marxuach’s company Concalma is the result of her passion for design and ethical manufacturing. Concalma offers a variety of sustainably created tote bags and clutches made by artisans at a women-owned factory in Puerto Rico’s mountainous region of Utuado. But without power, her San Juan retail store went dark, and she says her online shop became a “lifeline” for the brand. When electricity finally returned in December, Marxuach reopened her store as a community space for anyone who needed a place to work or connect.

“I thought ‘well, what we can do right now since people still don't have Wi-Fi or electricity in many places, we [can] open a space where we put a table for people that can come and work there,” she says. “Whether it’s to use the Wi-Fi or maybe even the designers that sell at Concalma [can] have a little workshop space.”

But she still worries the power might go out again at any moment.

“The government’s really not telling what the plan is,” says Marxuach. “It’s a big gigantic mess.”

When separated into two Spanish words, Concalma translates to the phrase “with a sense of calm.” But after Hurricane Maria, Marxuach changed the logo on the brand’s website to switch between the words “concalma” and “ConPrisa.” The latter is a new coinage: a combination of Spanish words that means “with urgency.” A blue banner on the site currently reads: “We’ve been hit very hard by Hurricane Maria. We need the support of our fans urgently!”

Despite the need for assistance in San Juan, help has not arrived “with urgency.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency has even announced that food and water aid for Puerto Rico will end on Wednesday, January 31. And in early January, Time magazine reported that only around 60% of customers in the U.S. territory have regained power so far, and crime has skyrocketed. Recently, a video went viral that showed students running and cheering in a school’s hallways when they realized that electricity had returned — more than 100 days after Hurricane Maria hit.

 

Gifts that keep on giving

Gifts that keep on giving

This holiday, support small businesses.

 

Concalma is a small independent lifestyle brand founded in 2006 that is guided by the principles of Fair Trade and Sustainability. We design and sell quality products from our own Concalma handbag line and products of other local designers

"a gift that keeps on giving" because with your purchase at shopconcalma.com you support

  • the fair trade movement
  • the design community 
  • small businesses
  • the local economy 
  • the supply chain that makes it possible

 Some of the qualities of our bags are comfort and durability

The straps of our bags are wide and comfortable athletic strap for easing the weight you carry, the straps mold to your shoulder instead of cutting into your shoulder and durability is very important to us since is a characteristic of goods that play an important role in tackling and reducing mass consumption.