Interviewing myself. About the beginnings of Casa Akbal, the motivation to start this journey. A few sentences that will hopefully give you a better idea of what Casa Akbal is and who I am.
When was the first idea for founding Casa Akbal born?
There has never been one single moment that would lead me towards starting this project. It was multiple moments and ideas that came together and started making sense. The first important step on this journey was my first trip to Guatemala in 2016, for an internship. There, a vague feeling of wanting to have a project somehow connected to Central America was born. I fell in love with the region.
Three years later, I was furnishing and decorating my apartment. I was looking for pieces from small, independent artisans with a story and philosophy that would be close to my heart. It was quite easy to find bigger furniture pieces, from local joiners for example. But when it came to smaller things, accessories and home decor, I realized that there were not that many brands and stores on the Czech market that would sell stuff according to my taste. Things with nice, timeless design, hand-made under fair conditions. In that moment I remembered the hand-woven textiles from Latin America.
During my next trip to Central America in 2020 I was already seriously exploring the possibilities of partnering up with local weaving cooperatives and artisan workshops in order to ship the products to Europe and to introduce them here.
During the covid pandemic, I cleared the backlog of different duties and unfinished projects and in 2021 I finally started building Casa Akbal.
What does motivate me to keep working on Casa Akbal?
The partnership with different artisans, the fact that I like to think that, in this way, I am at least a little bit supporting their art. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to cooperate with people who are real masters in their field and who are passionate. For having the chance to listen to their stories. I am glad that the partnerships of Casa Akbal are mutually beneficial and that I am playing a small part in contributing to the preservation of traditional crafts, of making them a sustainable source of income.
Besides that, I find the motivation also in the fact by moving this project forward, I am combining my passion for everything pretty and ethically made and my background, my education.
Economics and business and political science with focus on Latin America, especially on the social position of indigenous peoples in Central America. I guess it would be quite difficult to find a job bringing together all these things. So, I decided to create one!
Which product did inspire me to start the project?
The hand-woven wool rugs from Guatemalan highlands, from a town called Momostenango. I actually have a few pieces in the online store now, you can find them as “Rustic Rugs”. These rugs led me to a realization that there are interesting, handmade textiles produced in Guatemala and I started exploring more products, different techniques and materials later on.
What is the hardest thing about developing Casa Akbal?
Having to be my own cheerleader sometimes! The project is basically a one-women-show right now and I do most of the things connected to the operations on my own. By nature, I am a pretty pragmatic person, down-to-earth, and I am not a big risk taker. So right now, with being on the starting position with the business and things being tough sometimes, I need to wake up my inner optimist, who will tell me not to worry, that thing will be fine and it makes sense to keep moving forward.
And the best part?
So many things! Learning every day. The process of choosing new pieces, the coordination with my suppliers and partners. The unpacking when a big box full of goods arrives. Positive feedback I receive on my goods but also on the photos or even social media posts! I am really grateful for every new follower and, of course, every single order. My heart always starts beating so fast whenever a new order is placed and I do a little inner happy dance!
Where do I see Casa Akbal in a few years?
Hopefully, in many European homes! I hope I will be able to kickstart the project and keep moving it forward. I want Casa Akbal to become basically a household name in the field of ethically crafted home decor. So, whenever you’ll think of buying something nice and soft for your home, you’ll come straight to my online store.
I also already have my eyes on some new, exciting products. To name something, I’d love to add blankets or cushion covers from alpaca wool from the Andes to Casa Akbal. Besides that, I can also imagine selling decorations from wood or straw, in addition to the textile ones. There are definitely many ideas and there is a lot to look forward to!
If you feel like reading a "real" interview with me done by somebody else, do so HERE (switch to ENG there). Michala from fromomentomoment did a great job and asked very relevant questions.