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Ivette is the designer/creator of Palmyra Handmade. She's a yoga instructor, artist, fashion designer, content creator and all around gorgeous soul. I carry her totes in the Mercado Collection. I hardly know her but I want to know her and you will too after reading her interview. Here she shares life in Tulum and all the feels~
1. On finding Tulum~
Eight years ago I dropped everything and booked a flight to Playa del Carmen, a place I only knew from word of mouth and where I had no friends, family or a job waiting for me with just $300 USD of savings. I didn’t care...I needed to get away from my hometown and the life I had. I had a vision of what I wanted: to make pretty clothes, to teach yoga at the beach, to have an apartment by the sea and to wander around town wearing only bikinis, no make-up, a perfect tan and no heels. Playa was amazing, but of course the moment I stepped into Tulum, the scenario changed into this new and fabulous location. Tulum was and is definitely more “me”.
It wasn’t easy, and coming from a very classic Mexican family from a conservative city where all girls are expected to grow up, study, get married, have babies and become housewives; it was a challenge. That life wasn't for me so when I decided to leave, alone, to an unknown place, my parents freaked out; but I stayed strong and trusted the fire inside me that knew I would be able to do it. Not all girls can travel on their own or live independently but I’m one of those who can and I was meant to live this way. It was a perfect fit. The missing piece of the puzzle I had been searching for all along.
2. On life in Tulum ~You wear a lot of hats with design, IG, yoga and art. How do you find the time for everything? Was this your plan or all a way to be living your dream in Tulum?
This is funny because people ask me that all the time. I’m all over the place and always have been this way. I’m someone who doesn’t know how to rest. I do enjoy quiet days at the beach but still, I can’t just sit and do nothing. Even when I'm watching Netflix, I’m sewing or painting, cleaning or doing laundry. I feel that if I don’t do things, life will slip away. The concept of “weekends” does not exist for me; I don’t see them as rest days.
My life is the result of opportunities that I have taken advantage of when presented. But also, and more importantly, of mindset. Are you into manifesting? Because I am, and honestly my life has been 80% manifested. I am lucky to say that all the things I have wanted to do, have happened. Maybe not as quick as I would have loved, but I definitely got there when the moment was right.
In regards to time... If someone is constantly thinking, “I don’t have time for this”, they will NEVER have time for that. But if you are conscious of your time management, you will be able to do everything and more. I wake up in the early morning hours and that’s when I start my day, so of course I have time to do lots of stuff, enjoy a nice home cooked vegan meal and catch up on a favorite show before going to sleep. It’s all mindset. I don’t see it as a burden to wake up at 3am, I see it as an opportunity to do more things during the day; when you wake up to this thought, trust me; you won’t find it dreadful.
3. On business in Tulum and supporting the local Mayan women with Fair Trade, Sustainable & slow fashion~
I have been making clothes for years now but the style, inspiration and philosophy behind it has changed at the same pace that I have changed. I’m very grateful that I’m capable of selling my linen pieces in local shops in México and the USA. But this joy does not solely come from the fact that people are admiring and buying my brand; actually most of it comes from the satisfaction I get from being able to help my artisan women put food on their tables. When I lived in Baja, I did all the sewing myself; but my designs were mostly high couture gowns for weddings and fancy social events. I was in another stage of fashion back then, too vain and superficial for my taste. When I decided to change my lifestyle and move to the Caribbean, my fashion sense and style changed as well. When I arrived in Tulum, I thought I’d just start making beachy clothes for myself, but then friends asked me for the pieces I was wearing, then stores and soon I needed help with the sewing. I started looking for local women that could help me out with production and now, these amazing seamstresses have come back to life. They are all elder grandmas that are now the major providers for their family households.They are so grateful that they can make money from their art: sewing, knitting, pattern making, designing. Honestly, there have been stressful times when I have said “fuck it! I can’t do this anymore, it’s too muchl” BUT the face of these women LIGHTING UP every single time I arrive with more fabric is what keeps me going. They need the job, and I have realized that it is not only for the money but also because it makes them feel useful and valuable; when they were “self-declared” as a burden for their family. So this is empowering. There are times when I do not have any commissions but still I bring them material so they can make a garment or pillow for me, just so they can have an income. And other times, when buyers rush me with orders, I have to educate them: this is a slow fashion movement and I am not going to pressure my girls, as they make everything by hand, in their homes, where they have other duties such as taking care of their grandchildren, cooking, cleaning and still...they search for the time and willpower to create clothing for me.
PALMYRA HANDMADE has become a strong supporter of women from the local Mayan communities through the slow fashion and fair trade movements. I try to be as sustainable as I can. I have created several “zero waste” pieces from scraps and leftover fabrics, reducing textile waste and becoming more eco-friendly. I’m trying to make a living with my clothing label but also to make a difference; one that teaches people to take care of the environment, to support their local creators, to value the work done by hand and to question the origins of what they purchase. It’s important for all of us nowadays to ask “where is this garment coming from?” Is it coming from a massive fast-fashion oppressing company or a small independent brand that supports causes and is trying to make a positive impact on the environment and the lives of others? KNOWING THE ORIGINS is key in the actual world; our planet and our people depend on it.
4. On finding inspiration?
I find inspiration from my own thoughts, my experiences and myself. Yes, it might be easier to focus in a peaceful scenario but honestly sometimes in the middle of the war zone is when I can create the most. When I feel something inside, I can’t go on existing until I put it in writing, painting, fabric, etc… My head would explode. I am a person that lives too much inside her head so definitely everything I come up with is a result of what I’m going through at the moment, regardless of my location or life circumstances. My art has changed so much through the years, if I laid it all out in front of you, one could identify certain periods and what I was feeling in each one. Same with my style and fashion sense, music taste and random likes and dislikes; I have been so many "Ivettes," it’s like I’m constantly evolving. And each Ivette has brought me something different and led me into the next one, so it’s never hard to say goodbye to the old because I know it’s time to make room for the new to come.
I am inspired by brave, bold and independent women ahead of their time that defied society and went against men and all odds, to pursue their dreams. The ones that played a huge part in changing history so young women could dream big and feel able to follow those dreams. I am most drawn to women in the field of the arts which of course includes Frida Kahlo. I also admire Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Jk Rowling and Beatrix Potter.
6. Diary of Mexico~
I had already been living in Playa del Carmen for three years but decided I needed to explore other areas in México before settling in Tulum. So again, I was off to embrace a new adventure. I first went to Oaxaca, where I stayed about four months living in between different beach towns on the coast. First Mazunte for two months then a couple of weeks in San Agustinillo, then Zipolite, Zicatela, Puerto Escondido, Huatulco and then finally reaching Oaxaca city. The whole state is beautiful but it just wasn’t my place to live. I then ventured to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas for a month and I could have easily stayed longer if it wasn’t for the cold. . By that time, my cousin from San Diego was moving to NYC so I thought, why not? Total contrast from the jungly places I was living.I had to make a stop in Baja at my parents house to change wardrobes; left my suitcases packed with all of summer frocks and bikinis and grabbed my coats from my old bedroom. New York is the bomb, amazing city; I only stayed a month because I’m not American and also it’s too much and too big for me. I just feel more comfortable in small beach towns. Next I applied for a job in Sayulita and when they called me I booked a flight to Baja, changed wardrobes again and then jumped on a flight to Sayulita. I stayed in Sayulita for awhile but ultimately I felt a pull for Tulum .
7. TULUM HANGOUTS?
❣ Beach clubs: Whenever I go to the beach I hang out only at these hotels I love: Sanará, Nomade, Ahau Tulum and Chiringuito.
❣ Restaurants: There are so many great places to eat in Tulum and vegan! I love Pasha, Mezzanine Hotel, The Real Coconut, Raw Love, Holistika’s Tierra restaurant and Matcha Mama for the smoothie bowls!
❣ Bars: I don’t party at all, but I do enjoy drinks once every year at Encanto Cantina, Casa Jaguar and Gitano.
❣ Shop: Wanderlust Tulum of course! La Tiendita, In the Middle, Calas, Yevadon are my faves.
8. On Scent & Memories?
You know how there are scents or songs or colors that transport you into memories… I love that. I have a great memory. I’m able to remember ridiculous moments from my childhood, like what a girl was wearing the first day of kindergarten, or what I wore to that party in high school, or the names and addresses of classmates I literally haven’t seen in decades. Whenever I smell or see or taste something I haven’t felt for a while it triggers my memory and transports me into another time. Sometimes I induce it, with songs mainly, especially from the 90s. (Meredith Brooks, Ace of Base or Nirvana) I loved the 90s and it always cheers me up.
9. MORNING RITUALS ?
I'm all about the morning rituals and night rituals, getting in the car rituals and cleaning rituals..maybe because I'm an OCD freak, I can't help myself. Little things such as making coffee the way I like it while sitting alone in mental silence. Enjoying breakfast and taking my time to indulge and savor it. Listening to the birds outside and chanting with no disturbance from cars honking or construction. Moving my body through yoga. Running or cycling outdoors is imperative because I need my dose of daily nature: the smell of vegetation, the sound of the waves, the feeling of sand between my toes and the wind in my face...
I’m so devoted to being an early bird that lately I rise at 2~3 AM and literally drink my first cup of coffee by 2:45 AM. It’s funny because some would say it’s still night time but for me it's magic. It’s a very quiet, peaceful and delightfully dark morning that allows me to wake up at my own pace, slowly adjust into “living” again after a good sleep which provides me the space to stay still and enjoy the new day without the noise and the people. I’m one of those that NEEDS to have several hours of silence and a lot of caffeine before stepping out into the world; I really require to mentally prepare for life Everyday. I've been like this since I was a kid, though the activities have changed over the years but still the rituals of easing into life have stayed.
10. Currently reading?
I literally just started reading a book someone gave to me, "The Passion of Artemisia" by Susan Vreeland. I find so much comfort in reading. I try to read one book a month but lately I’ve been taking the time to study more about social media and online marketing. I’m a sucker for love stories even when I don’t believe in such a thing for myself; maybe that’s why I like them so much; I don't know if I will never have a grand love story so I experience them through the ones I read about. My faves are Jane Eyre, Love in the times of Cholera, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations and Glory and the Lightning. I have all of the books I have read stored in my room at my parents house. I don't think I will ever part with them. I love to open an old book that smells...oh the smell of old pages is magical.
11. On finding Zen?
Over the years I have come to realize there is no such thing as a specific “happy place”, at least for me. I have struggled with depression since childhood and always thought that what depressed me was where I lived. I don’t fit in with the people and lifestyle of my hometown not even with my family’s. In college I got to travel to Europe with the student exchange program. I thought finally.. I am going away. What I realized after landing in Madrid, the scenario had changed but I was still me and my thoughts were still there. Years later I experienced what many of us go through. I thought I found my "Happy Place" with a guy...until he broke my heart. I guess this is what has kept me moving, trying to find my place in the world and in turn, myself...and my zen. I have learned that no matter where I am, I could move to Bora Bora or Saturn and still; if I don’t to the inner work, I will carry depression everywhere I go. It's hard sometimes to navigate life as a creative, someone who feels things so deeply, who sees life as art and art as life...but this is my path. I am working on it and this is what counts. My zen zone would be anytime when I am not letting those dark thoughts take over me. It’s precious time, like when I’m doing my yoga practice, or painting, sewing, cycling or even enjoying a quiet morning at the beach on my own.. in one of those secret spots I love with no one around.
13. WORDS OF WISDOM?
I am not sure that I am wise enough to share any wisdom but I DO have one mantra that I live by and have found that it works like a charm: “GIVE NO FUCKS”. That’s it. Follow your gut, do your hustle no matter what as long as you are not hurting anyone or anything. Just live and let live and give no fucks of what anyone else tells you. I have gotten where I am now with no fucks given. If I would have cared, I would probably be an unhappily married housewife with a bunch of kids somewhere in Mexicali, Baja California. If I had cared of what people told me then, I would have never studied Fashion as a career or yoga to be a instructor, or moved to Tulum, or traveled alone...So Give no fucks, please!
14. FREE FOR ALL~On our current situation
I wonder how everyone is coping. I myself find it extremely hard to endure. I have been in quarantine since the beginning of March. Although I have no trouble staying at home, it is the fact of uncertainty that is killing me. I’ve been having constant panic attacks and physical complications due to stress: insomnia, body pain, vertigo, and lately even paralysis in my right hand. I can’t even sew, paint or draw during this time because I need my right hand to do so. All of this is making it difficult for me to stay upbeat. I try to stay strong and hopeful but the fact that the virus is not going away, that everything has stopped in the business world, that my financial situation is paused, that we cannot go out normally and enjoy regular activities, that I cannot touch or hug anyone and that we DO NOT KNOW WHEN this is all going to end..it's all too much. I am feeling it all too much and I find it draining all of the energy from me. I know a lot of people are very anxious, and I want to say to you, I am too that way; it is normal to experience this, you are not alone. I feel you. Let’s stay strong together, even at a distance. This too shall pass~
FIND IVETTE DAYDREAMING HERE ~@ivette_mancilla