Wearwell's co-founder Emily Kenney chats with the Design Director at Mercado Global, Fernanda Jung, based in beautiful Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. Fernanda shares more about her design inspiration and how she collaborates with artisans to bring Mercado Global’s collections to life.
Emily Kenney: I’m so happy to be chatting with you, Fernanda! To start things off, how did your interest in fashion design begin?
Fernanda Jung: As a child, I grew up with handcrafts all around me. Every woman in my family practiced some sort of textile craft: crochet, tricot, embroidery, and more. My dad, who is a huge inspiration to me, is an engineer. I grew up watching him build every single thing for me from scratch: my dollhouse, kid’s scooter, and school projects. So it felt natural for me to enter into a creative career focusing on handmade textiles myself. Ethical fashion, innovation, and problem-solving are my passions.
Emily: Can you share more about how you work and collaborate with Mercado Global’s artisans?
Fernanda: Our model begins with access to education. We work with women who have little to no experience in sewing and weaving so we provide them with a holistic education program so they're able to graduate as a Mercado Global Artisan, equipped with the tools and knowledge to become entrepreneurs in their own right. Many of our artisans go on to build their own successful community businesses, which is ultimately the goal of our work!
Sharing and collaborating with our partner artisans is definitely my favorite part of the job. Bringing the artisans into the design process is super important for us, and it's incredible to see their excited reactions when their ideas are translated into the final collection.
To be able to not only get to know their craft, but most importantly to get to know them, their families, their routines, and their life stories is a true privilege.
Emily: What inspires your Mercado Global designs?
Fernanda: People and land are always at the center of my design process and, therefore, the inspiration. My job is to connect our worldwide community with our artisans and with their local culture in unique and unexpected ways. Before planning a collection, I ask myself how I can show our clients that, despite the distance and differences, there are ways that we as humans can connect across the world.
Emily: That’s such a great mindset and I think that comes through so clearly in the bags you design! In 3 words, how do you describe Mercado Global's aesthetic?
Fernanda: Animated, Inspirational, Unique
Blanca Tote, Block Block Stripe
Emily: Love those! What are your must-have Mercado Global styles?
Fernanda: The Blanca Tote - I can't go anywhere without a huge tote that fits everything in it! The Blanca is the ultimate grab-and-go bag and is perfect for everyday use - it's also foldable so it’s great to pack into other bags when grocery shopping!
The Mini Cristina Pouch - Ask anyone in the office, I'm the crazy organizer! You won't find me without multiple Cristinas to organize all my belongings within my tote.
The Apolonia Tote - This tote is a really practical piece that also looks and feels super special. It’s perfect for bringing a handmade feel to any outfit!
Emily: The Blanca Tote and Mini Cristina Pouch are my personal favorites too. I also have a few Mini Cristina Pouches and use them for organizing my purse, makeup, and suitcase - they’re the perfect size! What’s next for Mercado Global - any exciting initiatives or new designs that you’re looking forward to?
Fernanda: I wish there was just one to pick from! We recently launched our first Upcycled Collection utilizing deadstock denim donated by Levi Strauss & Co, which we paired with our colorful fabrics. For the next Upcycled Collection, we're so excited to take our sustainable practices a step further and also experiment with fun textures and prints for a more fashion-forward approach.
Emily: Very exciting! We’re looking forward to seeing what you design for Mercado Global next.
Shop Mercado Global at wearwell