INTERVIEW: WAX + CRUZ (LAUREN WOOD)

Setting the warp in the weaving workshop

Setting the warp in the weaving workshop

Proud Mary started working with Lauren from Wax + Cruz a few years ago producing handwoven textiles from Guatemala for a hat collab (she makes awesome hats with traditional textiles).  Her collection has grown into a dream resort collection made in collaboration with artisans in Chiapas, Mexico.

Why do you choose to work with global artisans/global handcrafts?
I started Wax + Cruz sourcing textiles while traveling or working with mills, but I didn’t know the real story behind where my materials were coming from. As my vision of the company became more focused, I wanted to know the origin of each facet of the product. It was a natural next step to collaborate with artisans that have had these weaving traditions in their families and communities for generations. As a result, I could meet the people, see the place and process, and design my product from the ground up. Working with global artisans has made Wax + Cruz more complete and soulful, more nuanced, and more socially responsible.

Mountains of Chiapas

Mountains of Chiapas

What sort of impact do you wish to achieve by working in the artisan sector?
On a personal level, I want to contribute to the success and stability of the families and communities that I collaborate with to make Wax + Cruz. In a broader sense, I want to run a company that is positive and humane and drives economic growth in parts of the world where poverty is more prevalent. As the world barrels towards more and more technology and “advancement”, it is nice to have a reminder that really talented human beings in this or that corner of the world are making things by hand that delight us— things that are useful and add beauty to our lives.


What do you think is the biggest challenge affecting the artisan sector (i.e., artisan training, market access, global instability)?
I’m fairly new to this sector, but in my experience, the biggest challenge is market access and business organization. The artisans I have been working with already design and produce gorgeous pieces, but finding the audience and physically getting it into the hands of people around the world is the challenge.

Lauren and Alberto in the weaving workshop

Lauren and Alberto in the weaving workshop

Rank by importance...job creation, craft preservation, and design/aesthetics.
1 Design/ Aesthetics: If I don’t like the way something looks, I will not put it out into the world. It all starts with the idea of what I want to create, then the process of collaboration begins. How do we achieve the best result? What is possible/ not possible? Sometimes happy accidents happen in the sample making process, but it absolutely has to look good! 2 Job Creation: Most of the people I work with are family owned workshops or co-ops where everyone, sister, brother-in-law, grandmother all contribute in some way. The success of each artisan and their family radiates out into the communities where they live. I hope that fair and stable wages and knowledge of skills brings more prosperity to these communities. 3 Craft Preservation: The artisans I work with were making interesting and beautiful things long before I came along and surely will long after. But it is important and meaningful to me that the craft of a particular community is passed on from generation to generation. Hopefully Wax + Cruz contributes to honoring, preserving, and giving value to these traditions.

Wax + Cruz Fall Collection

Wax + Cruz Fall Collection

Name a few brands working in collaboration with global artisans that you admire and why.
Anaak Collection: I think the clothes and narrative of Anaak are super elegant. The designer seems to spend a lot of time with the community of artisans she works with and it shows in her beautifully relaxed, wearable pieces. Industry of All Nations- I really like Industry of All Nations’ product and it’s great that it is not only socially aware, but environmentally aware. Their Clean Jeans eliminate petrochemicals in the dying process. Natural dyes are something that I am dipping my toe into right now, and I want to learn more!


What is your favorite product to produce and why?
My favorite products to produce are multi-use textiles. I like pieces that you can live with throughout your daily experiences and travels. The Wax + Cruz Beach Throws are great for taking to the beach, drying off, throwing over the back of a chair, covering up with during a beach nap, or using as a sarong. I like them because the beauty of the textile shows through and they are ultimately a really useful piece.

Wax + Cruz Fall Collection

Wax + Cruz Fall Collection


Where has been your favorite place to travel and where are you dying to go? (because let's be honest we do this in part so we can see the world!)
So many places! But I feel very spiritually connected to Mexico and Italy. I’ve been going to Mexico since I was a little kid, and it always had a sense of magic and mystery for me. I remember going to the Mayan ruins when I was about 5 or 6 with my family and that sealed the deal for me. It had a long-lasting impact and was probably the seed of my chronic wanderlust! There are one million reasons to keep going back: the beaches, the food, the textures, the warmth of the people. I will always and forever love Mexico! I love that my work takes me there now and I get to learn more about the traditions and culture. I lived in Italy for a couple years when I was younger and it was an equally impactful experience. I learned a lot about craftsmanship and quality there. I learned about food, and cooking, and making things well. I love the history, the architecture, and the way of life. Morocco blew my mind with all it’s wild textiles and earthiness. I’d like to go back and explore more. Places I’m dying to go: India, coastal Oaxaca, and Puglia.