This week we're highlighting professional travelers and traveling professionals, and Jacqueline Lopez (who is both) manages to mix business with pleasure wherever she goes. In 2013, Jacqueline founded Jaline Design in Mexico City to showcase emerging Latin American designers and vintage treasures. Although she is now based in NYC, she still visits Mexico at least four times a year. She tells us about her inspiration, her recent photoshoot in Oaxaca, and her favorite things to do there when not on the clock.
How did Jaline Design start? Why Mexico?
My husband and I moved to Mexico City in 2011. I started exploring local artisan markets in different neighborhoods and got introduced to the beautiful craftsmanship the country has to offer. Curious to learn the origin of these crafts, I took many trips throughout Mexico. Oaxaca, in particular, captured my heart; it is by far one of the most magical cities in existence.
Oaxaca as a city doesn't have specific neighborhoods — it is too small — but you can see many different communities outside of the city, each of whom speaks their own language and weaves their own designs. (There are around 16 ethno-linguistic groups living in the state of Oaxaca alone.) The vibrant colors, people, customs, food, and textiles made me feel a need to connect and learn more about their traditions. My inspiration lies within these special communities and their history.
When I travel to Mexico City, there are a plethora of beautiful neighborhoods to explore: I love Condesa, Roma, Centro Historico, and Juarez, an up-and-coming neighborhood. There are tons of new artists and designers that are not afraid to experiment.
I launched Jaline Design to create a modern collection of goods using the celebrated traditional techniques of weaving and coloring. My dream is to create a year-round resort lifestyle collection bringing together tradition and new trends.
Tell us more about the customs and traditions that inspire you.
In Oaxaca, the diversity of weaves is as rich as the natural environment. Learning about the complexity and integral value of the indigenous textile art has made me appreciate these works of thread and cloth — they should never be allowed to disappear!
Local designers make past and present elements work together, approaching each design with a distinct idea of how to create something modern while respecting tradition.
How often do you travel to Mexico? What do your trips usually look like?
I travel to Mexico four times a year. To Oaxaca, where I have established working relationships with certain communities, and to Mexico City, to get inspired by new and upcoming artists.
My trips are usually quite busy; I'm visiting as many of the markets and surrounding villages as I can to source new communities or techniques.
My most recent trip in April was for my Fall 2015 photoshoot. I started the trip by scouting for locations around Oaxaca, between the mountain valleys and the city. For this collection, the pattern and print combinations of Oaxaca are a strong theme, along with vibrant background colors, tile patterns, and rustic detailing. I wanted each location to tie back to the look and feel of the new collection, while inspiring my customers with the magic of Oaxaca.
This recent shoot was shot primarily in the city. The locations varied, as I was always looking for the right colors and timing of the day. But there are incredibly beautiful locations all around Oaxaca, like natural hot springs Hierve el Agua and Lagunas de Chacahua National Park. We shot in a private home, hotels, outside the grand Santo Domingo Church, the streets, alleys, markets, all revolving around daily life.
What about after the shoot, what do you do when you're not working?
I try to weave in time for fun. After the shoot wrapped, I was able to spend more time visiting the museums, perusing art galleries, and of course, eating really good food.
While Mexican cooking varies from one region of the country to another, I assure you that no state compares with Oaxaca in variety of cuisines. It's the land of the seven moles, and I enjoyed sampling every single one at Los Pacos.
I love Pitiona, where chef and owner Manuel Bayous infuses his experimental cooking with traditional flavors. For traditional Zapotecan food, I go to Azucena Zapoteca.
Casa Oaxaca is a nice place to stay if you're in town, but also great for drinks, especially at sunset. Their beautiful outdoor space has spectacular views of Santo Domingo cathedral.
Mezquite (García Vigíl 601-A; +52-951-514-2099) in the center of Oaxaca is one of my favorite spots for local mezcal.
A special treat is the spectacular Mezcal Pierde Almas, another mezcaleria that can only be visited by appointment.
Museo Textil de Oaxaca is fascinating. They promote Oaxaca's traditional textile crafts through exhibitions, workshops, and films.
Contemporary art museum MACO is a great example of how global contemporary art can merge with local traditional art. The art is housed in a beautiful colonial 17th-century mansion.
The Santo Domingo Cultural Center is also a must. It consists of the Baroque Santo Domingo church, Museo de las Culturas (in an old monastery), and the ex-convent of San Pablo. The ex-convent was founded in 1529 and the newly renovated space is breathtaking.
20 de Noviembre is a huge market where you can find specialty food and textiles. It is open every day of the week.
On Thursdays I visit Zaachila market in Villa de Zaachila, one of the oldest markets in Oaxaca. And on Friday, it's Ocotlán market in Ocotlán de Morelos to see the wonderful black pottery of the region.
On Sundays, I visit the Tlacolula Tianguis market 18 miles southeast from Oaxaca. It is a fantastic market where artisans from surrounding towns come to showcase their work and food.
When I'm in Mexico City on a Sunday, I never miss La Lagunilla at the corner of Rayón and Allende. It is the best flea market ever.
Teotitlán del Valle is a small village about 20 miles from Oaxaca where they make beautiful rugs and carpets. It also has one of the best restaurants that serves traditional food called Tlamanalli (Av. Juárez 39, Centro; +52-951-524-4006).