Named after its founder, Yosuzi is an accessory brand inspired by the myths and cultures of native South American tribes. Yosuzi, which means “Cactus Flower” in Guajiro Native Dialect, was born and raised in the Guajiro Desert of Venezuela. She grew up immersed in the traditional ceremonies, artisanal craft, and culture of the Native American Tribe, which her brand now pays tribute to. After growing up in this native Venezuelan culture, Yosuzi attended college in Boston and then worked as a creative in the film, fashion, and advertising industries for ten years.
In 2014 Yosuzi saw an old photograph of her grandmother - the first ever Miss Venezuela winner - in a handwoven straw hat, known as a Woma. Inspired by the simple beauty of this accessory, Yosuzi and her mother traveled back to their native country. While there, Yosuzi and her mother formed relationships with community leaders of their tribe, and were introduced to local craftsmen who wove the Woma hats. These artisans inspired Yosuzi to start her brand in order to bring awareness to the inherent beauty and tradition of her native culture.
Today, Yosuzi works with 60 artisans in Ecuador and 35 artisans in the Guajiro Desert of Venezuela. Each piece is handcrafted by these artisans using either locally-sourced Iraka Palm Straw or locally-sourced Toquilla Straw, depending on the piece. Each hat takes up to ten hours to craft, and the bags take up to two days. Every piece is woven using a traditional, diagonal weaving technique unique to Yozusi’s native tribe with patterns and symbols representative of the native spirit of the culture. Yozusi’s ancestry is forever tied into the brand, as its logo is the symbol of her Aapushannna clan, which the native women would tattoo on their chins to demonstrate social status.
“After living in big cities abroad, I found something really pure and honest while spending time with the tribe. When I saw my grandmother’s photograph with her Woma hat, I realized I could build something really beautiful, while also very meaningful for the community I’ve now reconnected with.” - Yosuzi
To further her commitment to preserving local traditions and artisanry and giving back to her native community, Yosuzi founded The Woma Project: an artisan training program that empowers the crafts-men and -women of the Guajiro Indians to continue the traditions of their tribe. These are the men and women who create the Iraka pieces that are staples of the brand. Additionally, 10% of all proceeds goes to Cepin, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring better health and education for the Guajiro Indian children.