Girls Just Want to Have Fun, as Entrepreneurs
A huge upside to be a foreigner is the ability, if you try, to see situations from a multiple of perspectives. Often you realize your gut reaction is more reflective of your home country’s cultural norms than your actual intentions to help a local gal in her career.
Recently a foreigner wanted fellow foreigners to sign a position for the Otomi women that sell the Mexican Maria dolls in an effort to get more government involvement in their work. Again, a situation with a multiple of perspectives as the Mexican Maria dolls have gained tremendous popularity lately.
Taking a step in another direction, ask who really cares if a bunch of foreigners sign a petition? We’ve zero political clout even when organized en mass since we aren’t who the city’s economy is geared towards, that would be the top 1 to 2% economically speaking from Mexico City. Well, that, and a foreigner can’t vote. Details, details….
If you want to help the Otomi women with their careers, then do what I do, buy dolls. Natalia, my favorite doll maker, has dolls that grace every cover of my best-selling books series, San Miguel de Allende Secrets. Whenever I have a fiesta I’ll special order hundreds of dolls ahead of time with color coded ribbon, like red and green for Christmas, to give guests as they leave my home. Even on an ordinary day, I’ll buy a dozen or more key-chain dolls to give out in my dance class later that day. One can never give away enough dolls honoring the Virgin Mary.
Same goes for my napkin selling sweetie, Isabel. I’ve bought countless napkins from her. Do I use them? Not as napkins, but giving any gift in a bag the napkin becomes the crepe paper with a story about Isabel and her work.
Isabel doesn’t want your loose change, as she has made clear to me when folks do so, countless times. She wants you to buy her handicraft and support her efforts. They cost less than a coffee at Starbucks.
When not in the mood to shop, simply give the street vendors some food and drink. We’ve all had hard days at work where a cookie, coke and smile can make all the difference in that moment.
The funniest irony with the Mexican Maria doll makers were foreigners felt more government regulations for the local Otomis would decrease Chinese imports. The Otomis certainly hope not as what has kept San Miguel de Allende from being the official home of the Mexican Maria dolls (like tequila from Tequila, a big marketing boost) is too much of the material in today’s Mexican Maria dolls comes from China.
Perhaps a more relatable example of helping a local gal succeed on her own terms is Carolina, my one time one morning a week maid that opened a restaurant by the bridge in Cieneguita towards the Leon airport. As the biggest employer of technical writers in Research Triangle Park, NC I’ve employed over a 1,000 people over two decades and not one worked harder than Carolina does. She even slept in the field her restaurant was in to keep folks from stealing her gas stove. Then the rains came and washed it all away.
Today she moved to serving burgers in front of her home in nearby Los Lopez. In a quiet moment I asked if she ever preferred to go back to cleaning. “No” she adamantly stated. The restaurant is creative, fun and her family comes and goes all day, perks cleaning never provided.
Instead of starting a petition or charity for female entrepreneurs I respect Carolina’s choices and instead advertised Halloween Burgers for her and bring van loads of my tour guests by for a bite on my dime. You want help a local gal? Bring her more business, and that means you, personally. Buy whatever, don’t try control or manipulate her business as she knows what she is doing.