Sometimes I love what a brand makes, but then when I find out what’s behind that brand I fall in love a little bit more. That’s definitely been the case over the last few years with Nena & Co. Not only are the pieces beautiful and unique, but it’s a brand supporting an amazing cause. They work with Guatemalan artisans to create hand-woven textiles that are used to make all of their pieces. Recently the brand moved it’s U.S. headquarters to Utah, so the last time Blake and I were there we had to check it out.
It’s a beautiful little space in American Fork, and kind of bag-heaven. When we first walked in, I didn’t even know where to look. Luckily, they let us take our time and wander. We were also able to sit down with founder Alejandra Hynek (Ali to her friends!) for a little Q&A. Scroll down for pictures from our visit, our interview with Ali, and some exciting news at the very end of the post!
Q: Where are you from? Tell me something you remember from your childhood.
A: I grew up in San Diego and moved back and forth from San Diego to Utah areas throughout my 20’s. My mom’s side of the family is from Guatemala and my dad is from Utah.
Q: Who was most influential for you growing up?
A: Besides En Vogue and TLC, probably my Mom and Dad. I’m sure most people say that but I’d have to say they have been my biggest influence, spiritually, morally, but also business-wise.
Q: What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?
A: I hated school! All growing up I never planned on going to University after High School. All I wanted to do was become an “aerobics instructor” and have babies. If my mom didn’t force me to apply to BYU-Hawaii (which sounded like the best option possible if I had to keep going to school) I wouldn’t have gone. I was such an idiot! Haha!
Q: How did the idea come about for Nena & Co.?
A: Growing up with a Guatemalan mom plays a big part in why Nena exists! Its in my blood (even though I may not look like it) haha! I still have a lot of family that never left Guatemala and one in particular has dedicated her life to helping the Maya people who have suffered from the civil war that lasted about 35 years. To watch someone who has very little, compared to American standards, devote her life to those who have even less than her motivated me to take action! It motivated me to find a way that I could help her in her efforts to feed the 17,000 elementary aged kids that she is responsible for feeding every week day! And thats just one of the projects she’s in charge of!
Q: What inspires your designs?
A: I try and use classic designs that are functional with a Guatemalan flare. I tend to design big bags, just because I usually try and carry my whole life with me. I figure I’m not the only crazy person that feels like she needs to carry a ton of stuff around with her “just in case” so most of the bags are bit large. However, my 2016 line will have a few smaller pieces that you can use as a wallet/purse and detach the strap and throw it in your larger Nena bag when you need more room!
Q: Which of your own designs would you say you wear/use the most and why?
A: I go through phases simply ’cause I need to test out new designs, but one of my favorite combos on a daily basis is the Computer Bag ’cause i’m always towing my computer and note pads around, and the Lucia Carryall for all my daily nicknacks.
Q: What is something you really want people to know about Nena & Co.?
A: I want people to know that the heart and soul of Nena & Co. are its people. We work really hard to work directly with our weavers and bag makers so that we know they have good working conditions, fair pay and excellent quality work. They are the reason I started this business and I will never forget it.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: I’m a stresser. I’ve had to learn that you just can’t stress and worry about things that are out of your control. If you can really believe that, than your life will be much happier.
Q: What advice do you have for someone picking a bag?
A: Go with your first choice, its usually what you end up with anyway! I watch people come into our warehouse and take hours picking out a bag and 90% of the time they end up with that first choice! In my opinion, “more is more”. It’s how I style my look books and how I like the patterns on my bags. Believe me, they go with everything!
Alright so here’s the exciting news for all of you Utah readers – Nena & Co. is holding a warehouse sale for the first time ever, this Saturday, August 1st! Here’s the best part: EVERYTHING is 25% oFF! Plus, they’ll have a special section of samples and “as is” pieces for up to 60% off. With each piece being one of a kind (literally, no two bags are the exact same! Like snowflakes! ;)) this is an amazing chance to see/touch them in person, pick your favorite, AND get a discount. Details below:
And just in case you’re wanting them, here are some outfit details for you from that day ;):
If you’re in Utah, get to that warehouse sale and let me know what you end up with!!