The Internet lost it this month when Uber revealed its new logo. Unlike the old design, the new one doesn’t include the company’s signature “U.” It’s now a square inside of a circle, and it’s supposed to represent bits and atoms.

“Underwhelming” was one of the kinder responses. “Pretty awful” and “ugly” were more typical of the reaction that the company faced.

Mostly people asked why Uber chose to change a logo that was perfectly fine. Because it’s no longer that familiar shape, many users say they can no longer locate the app on their smartphones.

A confusing logo, like Uber’s, does nothing for a company. A logo is what customers trust, and when they see it, they know they can rely upon a brand to satisfy their needs.

It’s crucial when your company is designing its first logo to ensure that it’s going to fulfill customers’ expectations. With a good design, your company will stand out and attract more customers.

The following are tips from graphic design experts on what it takes to create a company logo.

Let it be representative of your brand

First and foremost, a logo “should communicate what your beliefs and brand pillars are,” says Steve DeCusatis, a graphic designer in Philadelphia. “It should feel polished and professional. If customers are going to trust a brand or spend money on its products, they need some confidence that the brand is legitimate.”

When you’re creating your logo, also must correlate with your company’s image and messaging.

“Your logo is the first thing people judge you on,” says Christopher Lollini, founder and CEO of Nalu Marketing, based out of Seattle’s WeWork South Lake Union. “If your logo is not in alignment with how you’re speaking, it’s going to be a big trust block point.”

According to Jamie Leighton of Revolution Media Group, based in San Francisco’s WeWork SOMA, your logo should show what your brand is “in a simple enough way that people can easily decipher its meaning and have a clear understanding of your company’s products or services.”

What are the three main characteristics of a great logo according to Leighton? Iconography, typography, and color.

“All three must work together in perfect harmony in communicating your brand’s identity, and choosing the right font or the right color is critical to that,” she says.

Let it show what makes you different

Your logo should not only demonstrate what your brand is, what it does, and why the customer should trust it. The logo also needs to show what makes your company distinctive.

A logo should “tell a deeper story about the company culture and its unique view on the market it operates in,” says Leighton. “For instance, a simple thing like turning a letter sideways in the name can communicate the company culture is unique—not like the others. Or using a cursive font can mean you’re fancy and high-end, just as a handwritten font can say laid-back and easygoing. So let your company’s brand personality shine and think outside the box when designing your logo.”

If you don’t know where to start with your logo, Rachel Gogel, creative director for the New York Times says to think about what words you’d link to your company.

“It can be a backwards approach to coming up with a good identity for a brand,” says Gogel. “You should stick with word association, and think about your tone and color. Then figure out your logo from there.”

Keep it simple

Don’t go for the bits and atoms—stay with the “U.” Simply put, don’t overdo your logo.

“Most ‘bad logos’ are generally just too complicated,” says Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST Creative. “The designers combine too many ideas into the mark, which clutters the message.”

Along with not incorporating a bunch of ideas or fonts, limit your use of color as well.

“You don’t want your logo to seem like a rainbow and have problems with offset printing,” says Yasin Erdal of Idea to ID, which has an office at WeWork Lincoln Road in Miami. “The less color you use, the better it is. It will also cost you less to print your business cards and other brand products.”

Make sure it works on all platforms

Nowadays, a logo has to look good in both print and online.

According to Gogel, you should come up with a simpler version of the logo first and expand on it. After all, you’re going to need it to be compatible with mobile phones, apps, social media platforms, email, banner and video ads, printed materials, and more.

Change it up when necessary

Once you have a great logo that works, keep using it until you decide to do a major brand shift or you’ve modified what you’re offering. There’s no need to change it up otherwise.

“In the advertising industry, brands do often undergo ‘brand refreshes’ every four to six years,” says Cass. “This does not always mean updating the logo, but rather the visual identity as a whole. Ultimately, deciding whether to change or update your logo comes down to your current goals, trends, competitors and many other considerations that range the full gamut.”

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They all assumed that there had to be a catch. Most were young adults struggling with low-paying jobs, such as those at call centers paying less than $2 an hour. Others were unemployed. Marcela Torres was offering them a chance to take a five-month coding course that would give them computer skills that would help them break out of the cycle of poverty.

To top it off, they wouldn’t have to pay tuition until they landed a job. Instead, they would receive a monthly stipend while they attended classes. Potential students were noticeably nervous when they turned out for a pizza-and-beer party where they would learn more about the program.

Hola Code pays students a monthly stipend while they learn crucial coding skills.

“They thought we were a scam,” says Torres, who had distributed flyers wherever she thought she could find students, including an underground hip-hop club. “Some thought they were going to be kidnapped. But everyone came because they were really desperate.”

Torres is the co-founder of Mexico City’s Hola Code, a coding boot camp that focuses on Mexican citizens who have returned after living for years in the US. Many were the so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to the US by parents who were undocumented immigrants. They had been deported or had decided to leave before being deported, so they had to build a whole new life in Mexico.

She says her students — who were basketball players, sushi chefs, and construction workers in the US — lack the basics, like official identification or a college degree, they need to secure a good job.

Hola Code is a coding boot camp that focuses on Mexican citizens who have returned after living for years in the US.

“Mexico is a classist society, and the university you went to determines your access to certain sectors,” says Torres, a finalist at WeWork’s Creator Awards. “The tech sector was like that, but it can’t continue. The demand for software engineers is too high.”

Based at WeWork Insurgentes Sur 601, the school has attracted students like 22-year-old Miriam Alvarez, who returned to Mexico from the US six years ago. The former call center employee started out with no coding skills, but now she’s helping create a better online registration process for Hola Code.

Alvarez says the project has made her more interested in front-end design.

“I really like the front-end, the client side of the UX,” says Alvarez. “I hope to broaden those skills even more.”

Torres is adamant that her first class, numbering just 22 people, can light a fire under the Mexican tech sector. A social scientist who has worked on technology projects around the world, Torres says she knows exactly what skills her students need. She partnered with San Francisco-based Hack Reactor, which agreed to share its curriculum with Hola Code.

Finding the right investors

Investors were harder to convince. Some were understandably skeptical about a coding boot camp that would pay students about $300 a month while they learned, and only asked them to pay for their tuition of about $6,000 after they found employment as software engineers.

“Most investors were very polite, but didn’t see it as feasible,” says Torres. “They thought it was a beautiful idea, but a bit naïve.”

Others, she says, were blatantly sexist.

“One potential investor loved the idea, but wanted a different CEO,” she says. “They tried to hide it by saying I didn’t have experience, but it was about being a woman.”

Based at Mexico City’s WeWork Insurgentes Sur 601, Hola Code has attracted 22 students in its first class.

She eventually found funding from an angel investor and a Mexican foundation called Promotora Social Mexico.

The gender bias that Torres encountered has only made her more committed to making sure that women are represented in the school. She says that the first class has only three women, but she is proud of the progress they are making.

“Some of these women are single mothers, and becoming developers gives them real opportunities,” says Torres.

Helping students find jobs

For all the drive and passion in the Hola Code office, Torres knows the project will fall apart if students cannot get jobs. She met with the human resources teams at several Mexicans firms, and at first they were a hard sell.

“They didn’t believe that coding boot camps would provide formal training,” says Torres. “Many only recruit developers with degrees, so what we are doing is quite radical.”

That perspective is changing, partly because US companies with offices in Mexico are keen to hire bilingual coders. Mexican companies began taking another look at students like the ones from Hola Code and saw they could match the performance of their in-house developers.

“I look at my team and I see the future creators of technology in this country.”

How can they tell? Torres asks them to provide a coding challenge that their employees would realistically encounter. She doesn’t reveal personal details about the student until a company agrees to hire them.

“Our partners don’t know if they are hiring a woman or a man,” she says. “It’s all very meritocratic.”

As the first class prepares to graduate, Torres says she’s pleased with the progress her students have made.

“I look at my team and I see the future creators of technology in this country,” she says. “They are resilient, they are hard working. They come with this hunger. I’ve never seen a group so determined to create something.”

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Last month, Unicode approved more than 150 new emoji, giving representation to bald people, redheads, and badgers. Notably absent from the burgeoning emojicabulary is menstruation, that monthly medical occurrence impacting roughly half the world’s population. Sure, there are approximations—a red circle or heart, a few demonic red faces—but still no unequivocal symbol for menstruation or menstrual products.

The emoji shutout isn’t the only way periods remain taboo, despite the well-reported rise in recent years of companies operating in the period space, such as Thinx underwear and tampon brand Lola. Meet three organizations in the WeWork community operating on the front lines—lobbying to lawmakers on removing sales tax on pads and tampons; delivering reproductive education to Indian girls at risk of leaving school; and handing out menstrual products to homeless transgender men who get shut out of women’s centers. They’re not an emoji; they’re a movement.

The youth advocate

When Harvard College sophomore Nadya Okamoto isn’t in class, she can be found at WeWork Mass Avenue, leading a 150-chapter empire of period education and advocacy initiatives called Period, the Menstrual Movement. She founded the youth-focused organization with her friend Vincent Forand as a junior in high school. Period concentrates its efforts into three areas: providing menstrual products to homeless people, educating students on different menstrual products, and advocating at the local, state, and federal levels for increased access to menstrual products.

The straightforward name and red dot-themed branding all speak to a frankness Okamoto embraces.

“We very much acknowledge that we’re part of a larger movement,” she says. “That really came to light in 2015, the year NPR called the ‘year of the period.’ We grew fast because we started right around then.”

Period Con 2017 in New York City
At Period Con 2017, volunteers pack and distribute donations from Tampax, one of the event’s sponsors.

The idea to start the organization came from a personal struggle for Okamoto as a teen in Portland, Oregon.

“I started this when I experienced homelessness and had just come out of an abusive relationship,” she says. Seeing homeless women struggle to get the menstrual products they needed spurred her to action.

“Finding my voice in advocacy was very healing for me and is still very healing,” she says. “It helped me get out of that situation, to throw my voice and energy into something else. It’s so rewarding to help so many homeless women now.”

“Finding my voice in advocacy was very healing for me and is still very healing.”

Okamoto’s own journey from homeless to Harvard has given her a platform to inspire, and she’s making the most of it. Last November, Period hosted its inaugural Period Con in New York City, bringing together outspoken voices on periods and other women’s health issues, including US Congresswoman Grace Meng and YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen.

“We’re part of this global community,” she says. “More than half of the population menstruates more than 40 years of their lives. Periods aren’t an obstacle. This is about fundamental human rights.”

Period founder Nadya Okamoto, second from left, hosts Period Con with volunteers.

Period, the Menstrual Movement
Nadya Okamoto, founder and CEO
Established: 2014
Based in: WeWork Mass Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts
What they do: Provide menstrual products to homeless people; educate students about different menstrual products through 150 chapters on high school and college campuses; advocate at the local, state, and federal levels for increased access to menstrual products.

Teens step up to teach

For India’s 120 million girls, getting their period can mean the end of their education.

“So many girls stop going to school when they start menstruating,” says Ricky Sharma, co-founder with Priya Shankar of Girls Health Champions. “Almost half will become mothers in their teens.”

Sharma and Shankar saw the educational blind spot that happens in reproductive health for girls in India due to cultural taboos and sensitivity. They wanted to try out a new idea—peer to peer education—to counteract the lack of information, or even more commonly, misinformation that would spread.

Their program trains girls in 8th, 9th, and 10th grades to teach their peers about important health topics, including menstruation and reproductive health.

We’re equipping them with support and strategies so they can start navigating these challenges in their lives.

Both with family ties to India, Sharma and Shankar first met in college and are now based in Boston and the Bay Area, respectively, at different universities. Sharma pivoted away from a career in investment banking and is pursuing his masters in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Shakar is a physician doing a pediatric residency for underserved populations at the University of California, San Francisco. Both use their academic breaks to make trips to India, including in 2016 when they did their first pilot of the peer-to-peer model.

“We were so nervous,” Sharma says. “We needed the girls to buy in, to put their hands up and be willing [to lead the programs]. We thought, ‘Would this be too challenging?’”

They wound up getting a good response, but what happened next is what convinced Sharma that the model had potential.

“When we were assigning girls to the curriculum they would teach, we had two girls come up to us and say they wanted to take menstruation and pregnancy—the two hardest topics,” he says. “Seeing that bravery and fearlessness in our girls continues to inspire us.”

“Seeing that bravery and fearlessness in our girls continues to inspire us.”

Now in operation for two years, Girls Health Champions is in 10 schools with 330 trained peer educators. Their data suggests that each champion sparks two dozen conversations outside of school—with neighbors, siblings, girls out of school, parents—about difficult topics that could improve the health of the girls and the women they’ll become. But Sharma and Shankar haven’t forgotten about the boys, either.

“As we continue our work, educating girls is only half the equation,” he says. “There’s only so much you can do in a vacuum. We’re working toward developing a curriculum for the boys. Mid-2018 is the goal.”

New York City Creator Awards winner Girls Health Champions
Ricky Sharma and Priya Shankar, second and third from right, empower girls to be community health leaders.

Girls Health Champions
Ricky Sharma and Priya Shankar, co-founders
Established: 2016
Based in: Boston and the Bay Area
What they do: Train adolescent and teen girls in India to teach their peers about important health topics, including menstruation and reproductive health.

‘Hello, I’m menstruating’

On the streets of Los Angeles, #HappyPeriod founder Chelsea Vonchaz Warner also had a realization that she needed to look beyond women and girls as she distributes to homeless people the period products they need to live healthy lives.

“The whole narrative of being homeless is told like it’s one experience,” Warner says. “But that’s not the case.”

“The whole narrative of being homeless is told like it’s one experience. But that’s not the case.”

While giving out pads and tampons one day, Warner approached a homeless person, then apologized when she saw she was speaking to a man. But the person, a trans man who was still menstruating, corrected her, saying, “I’m a female, yeah, I’ll take some.” He hadn’t been welcomed in women’s centers because of how he presented himself. “They won’t give me what I need,” he told her. They instead told him to go to the LGBT center, “where they deal with folks like him.”

“That made me mad,” Warner says. “After that, I decided to be inclusive. I dropped the whole ‘women and girls’ thing and just made it about periods.”

In the last year, #HappyPeriod has started delivering menstrual products to disaster areas, starting with those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Over two trips, she distributed 75,000 tampons donated by Cora to two high schools, a FEMA event, two organizations, and one church. While there, though, she had an eye-opening experience about how to better serve in moments of need. She had seen plenty of donations but not enough hands and bodies to connect the needy with the goods. “We would definitely do it again, but we’re about getting more people involved to execute on the distribution part,” she says.

HappyPeriod reaches out to homeless people in need of period products
#HappyPeriod volunteers reach out to homeless people on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

Warner started #HappyPeriod in 2015, first with outreach events where most of the volunteers were her friends. Now, she has chapters in 30 other cities. From day one, she made #HappyPeriod her full-time job. “It’s my life—it’s my kid, boyfriend, and husband,” she says. Before starting the nonprofit, Warner worked in costuming, pulling wardrobe for TV shows and movies for seven years. Making the leap to her own operation, “I just applied all that I did for other people, making them look good, to myself.”

Warner still honors her fashion background, rocking her own “Hello, I’m Menstruating” T-shirts and selling them to support #HappyPeriod.

When thinking about the increasing number of organizations also working in the period space, Warner says she’s energized.

“There are so many startups and new companies that are part of the narrative,” she says. “I call us the period posse.”

Chelsea Vonchaz Warner
Chelsea Vonchaz Warner raises money for #HappyPeriod with T-shirts like this one.

Chelsea Vonchaz Warner, founder and CEO
Established: 2015
Based in: Los Angeles
What they do: Organize outreach programs to ensure homeless people and disaster victims have the menstruation products they need.

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Late one night at his kitchen table, J. Kevin White visualized a solution to a problem he had grappled with for years. He needed a device that would let people diagnose their own vision problems, without an optometrist. Fiddling with a pair of bifocals, he imagined stretching out the the full spectrum of vision adjustments across a single lens, each prescription a different curvature. He grabbed a yellow legal pad and started sketching.

“I designed it in total from that epiphany moment,” says White, 50, who leads the nonprofit Global Vision 2020. Five years later, he can hold the finished product in his hand: USee, a low-tech, low-cost tool for diagnosing vision problems and prescribing glasses without an eye doctor.

The USee reduces the educational and technological barriers keeping an estimated 2.5 billion people around the world from getting the glasses they need.

J. Kevin White of Global Vision 2020 demonstrates the USee at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Zone on Jan. 31, 2018.

In areas of the developing world, eye doctors can be as rare as one in 1 million. The USee reduces the educational and technological barriers keeping an estimated 2.5 billion people around the world from getting the glasses they need to learn, work, and more.

A $72,000 prize from the DC Creator Awards, a WeWork-sponsored competition for innovators, brought White closer to that target by allowing him to produce the USee for the first time, using 3D printed frames and computer-cut lenses. So far, Global Vision 2020 has distributed 6,000 pairs of eyeglasses using their kits, which include the USee diagnostic tool, snap-in lenses, and frames.

In the last year, Global Vision 2020’s efforts have been concentrated in Mozambique, where White estimates 5.6 million people have no or limited access to eyeglasses. In 2016 and 2017, the organization conducted field trials at four of the country’s high schools, using teachers as the screeners and getting glasses to all students who needed them.

Global Vision 2020 Completed Filed Trials in Mozambique in 2017
A student in Mozambique finds his prescription using the USee.

The USee system helps lower the cost per pair of glasses to $4. But White’s goal is to cut that figure in half, a target he may reach this year thanks to his most recent funding boost. In January, Global Vision 2020 made it to the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York City, and White wound up a $1 million winner, standing stunned on stage alongside his two sons, Oliver and Owen.

This will allow us to produce thousands of the device, instead of tens and twenties,” he says. “This is a large capital investment that the $1 million more than covers.”

Eye-opening realization

White first noticed the challenge of delivering inexpensive eyeglasses to developing nations during his 20-year career in the US Marine Corps. As the director of humanitarian civic assistance—which he calls the “coolest job I ever had”—he allocated part of his $16 million budget to giving away eyeglasses in parts of Africa and Eastern Europe. “That opened my eyes to the fact that lots of people can’t get the glasses they need,” he says.

When White was jotting down ideas in his kitchen in 2014, he had been dwelling on two major issues: cost and coolness. Before the USee, the nonprofit, founded in 2009, gave out bulky, adjustable eyeglasses that were $22 a pop. While innovative at the time, young people didn’t want to wear the odd-looking specs. Now Global Vision 2020 sends out the USee device with each kit, along with a stockpile of standard frames and snap-in lenses.

First tested on White’s youngest son Oliver, who’s now 13, the USee uses a lens bar ranging from negative six to positive six, the standard range for vision checks. Each prescription is stated in easy-to-understand color and number combinations. If a user sees most clearly at Red 2, they can then snap corresponding lenses into a new set of frames and walk out the door with new glasses in 10 minutes.

Looking for partners

The first prototype of the USee lens was developed in 2014 with the help of Oxford University researcher Dr. David Crosby, one of White’s connections from his military career. White says few others in the world could have brought his sketch to life. This happens many times over in White’s quest to bring eyesight to the masses: experts in their fields willing to lend a hand for a worthy cause.

The most recent instance came in 2016 at Johns Hopkins University, where White is currently pursuing an MBA. Finding himself at the doorstep of world-class medical research facilities, White connected with the Wilmer Eye Institute’s Dr. David Friedman, who was willing to conduct trials using the prototype developed by Crosby. The trials were completed in 2017, and just this month, peer-reviewed journal Plos published the results.

“I look back on my life and it’s just coincidence after coincidence,” White says.

Photo by Emanuel HahnReflecting on his lucky breaks, White thinks back to his days at the Naval Academy, when a family who hosted him on weekends told him, “Coincidences are the Lord’s way of remaining anonymous.”

“I look back on my life and it’s just coincidence after coincidence,” White says.

Looking to the future, White wants to create more government-level partnerships in countries like Mozambique, where he continues to build relationships with education officials.

“Our goal,” he says, “is for someone to say, ‘Hey, we want 2,000 kits,’ and we say, ‘Great, give us three weeks.’”

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Someone Somewhere backpack

Five women stepped forward from among the dozens of seamstresses and artisans from the village of Naupan, tucked away among the mountains of the Mexican state of Puebla. The rest chose to wait.

Fashion startup Someone, Somewhere was visiting Naupan from Mexico City to strike up partnerships with the local seamstresses and artisans, providing jobs and creating contemporary fashion that embraced traditional Mexican textiles.

Petra Secundino, 37, was one of the first to sign on. “It was totally unexpected for me to find something like this that allows me to work from home,” she says. In many Mexican rural communities, women can struggle to find employment, either because of limited access to jobs or because of social pressure to remain at home.

Secundino remembers the division of the community when the “group of youngsters”—Someone, Somewhere’s three 20-something co-founders—came to the village to pitch the idea and how the balance began to shift.

“We started with one order, then two, then three, then four,” she says. “As we began ramping up with more designs, the friends, the cousins started being interested and asking to get involved.”

The traditional textiles find new life on modern products. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)
The company increases artisans' incomes by three times or more. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)

Since starting out with those first five artisans, Someone, Somewhere has grown to employ 162 people across Mexico, providing much-needed income for its predominantly female workforce. Three thousand more have contacted the company asking to join.

Someone, Somewhere employs 162 people across Mexico, providing much-needed income for its predominantly female workforce.

Mexico’s National Fund for the Development of Arts and Crafts estimates that 8 million artisans live in Mexico, a majority of them below the poverty line. Co-founder and CEO of Someone, Somewhere José Antonio Nuño, 26, first come to the village from Mexico City as a teenager to volunteer with his friends.

“After several years of volunteering, my partners and I decided to do something more sustainable for the community [after we graduated college,]” Nuño says. “We realized the levels of poverty and marginalization, but [also] the beauty of the crafts produced there.”

Each label names the artisan who made it. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)
Rosa is one of Mexico’s 8 million artisans. (Photo courtesy of Someone, Somewhere)

Nuño saw one potential reason for why so many artisans lived in poverty: They were producing decorative souvenirs that had been popular 30 years ago—like sombreros and skull ornaments—instead of products that resonated with today’s market, such as T-shirts, sweaters, backpacks, and hats. Pieces in the Someone, Somewhere line incorporate traditional textiles, like a woven patch on a T-shirt, a bold pattern on a pair of swim trunks, or a geometric shape stitched onto a denim shirt. Each item comes with a label naming the artisan and her community, creating a thread between creator and consumer.

Fresh off a win at the Mexico City Creator Awards, a WeWork-sponsored competition funding ideas with impact, Nuño says he’s now ready expand, starting with Mexico’s neighbor to the north, the US.

Empowering with income

Naupan is one of hundreds of rural villages in Mexico that lives off the textile industry because it’s one of the only options besides agriculture. When Nuño and his co-founders struggled at first to get a single artisan to join their vision in Naupan, they learned of the village’s troubled history with outside partners.

“Other designers had come to promise they would change the world for these women, even release their collections in New York,” he says. “Some women bought new looms and other equipment, but the people never came back.”

Someone, Somewhere built up trust, artisan by artisan, who started to see income from the partnership right away. “Once people saw we returned regularly, interest grew,” he says.

Since production got underway in 2016, the company has sold between 5,000 to 8,000 T-shirts a year, along with around 3,000 sweaters, 2,000 hats, 2,000 backpacks, and 1,000 swimsuits. The company distributes the line via e-commerce and pop-up stores in Mexico City.

Creator Awards winner Someone, Somewhere employs Mexican artisans to create authentic textiles
Someone, Somewhere runs pop-up shops around Mexico City. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)

Nuño estimates that the company has at least tripled the income of the women they work with. One seamstress, Silvina Alvarez Flores, is paralyzed except for movement in her hands. Previously, Flores depended on her aging grandmother to take care of her. Now she brings in her own income, sewing from her bedroom.

“We always seek to integrate those with the greatest need, such as single mothers or those from the poorest families,” Nuño says, adding that Flores has become the biggest earner in her family and is able to send her nieces and nephews to school.

Someone, Somewhere’s staff of 15 creates new hats and T-shirts based on current trends. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)
Every design is a collaboration between the villagers and the design team. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)

Secundino echoes this, saying that she has also become the breadwinner in her household. She recalls some initial pushback from males in the community when the women started to earn their own incomes.

“Sexism reared its ugly head,” she says. “But the advantages of working from home, allowing women to still do what they need to do there, and of bringing in more money has convinced those who were opposed.”

Refining their style

“When we started, we were only engineering students,” Nuño admits. “We had no idea about design.”

He describes the company’s first “ugly” designs—patches ironed onto pre-existing clothing. The team now includes 15 fashion, textile, and industrial designers who follow current trends and coordinate with the artisans.

A startup vibe permeates the company offices. Located in a converted residential bloc in Mexico City’s hip neighborhood of Roma, the headquarters is half occupied by long tables covered in swatches of material. The glass walls of the meeting room are covered in marker scribbles, names of communities melding with items and deadlines. At the back, the trends laboratory is filled with racks of clothing and a gigantic sewing machine, which Nuño says can crank out any new idea as quickly as possible.

“We always release products in small quantities to test them out,” Nuño says. “If they work, we do more.”

A lesson in localization

As Someone, Somewhere has developed as a business, one of the biggest missteps came when they built a central workshop in Naupan with the idea of serving as a base for the artisans to learn how to make products.

“It was a total failure,” Nuño says. “The women wanted to work from home and maintain their activities, such as cooking or childcare.”

Now when Someone, Somewhere works with communities across central and southern Mexico, the company strives to preserve the lives of the artisans. Local coordinators in each community, including Secundino, are in constant touch with Nuño and ensure his team understands any local issues.

“I still sew, but less and less, as my time is taken up by the coordination,” Secundino says. Her duties regularly include accounting, distributing the workloads, ensuring quality control, and sending the goods to Mexico City.

One million artisans

Someone, Somewhere will open a pop-up shop in Venice Beach, California, in 2018. (Photo by Ana Georgina Ampudia)

So what’s next for Someone Somewhere? Nuño says he’ll capitalize on interest from the US, the source of 10 percent of the company’s online traffic. This summer, the company will open a pop-up store in Venice Beach, California. Over time, the store will test new concepts such as wallets, passport holders, and even surfboards designed with Ceviche Surf Co., fellow winners at the Mexico City Creator Awards.

Nuño believes that if demand explodes in the US, the number of women employed will skyrocket.

“Our intention is to reach 1,000 artisans in the next year,” he says. “We want to continue expanding dramatically. In the best scenario, we would eventually reach 500,000 to 1 million artisans.”

One million, following in the footsteps of just five.

Photo of José Antonio Nuño by Ana Georgina Ampudia

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