The IOE&IT Daily Update continues to profile four female entrepreneurs who appeared at the Institute of Export & International Trade’s stand at the WTO Public Forum in September.
The stand showcased four ambassadors from the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades initiative.
SheTrades provides female entrepreneurs with access to knowledge, resources, and networks as a way to address this gender imbalance.
In today’s article, we profile a South American businesswoman running an eco-fashion label that celebrates women through colour, handicraft and sustainability.
María Alejandra Bouvier, founder of María Bouvier (Uruguay)
After three years studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, María Alejandra Bouvier found a book on natural hand-dyeing clothes in a shop in Brooklyn.
The book had a profound effect on her, leading to a return to Uruguay and the founding of her eponymous company three years later.
As well as using hand-dying techniques, her brand prioritises sustainability and ecology by using materials that are less environmentally harmful than those that are normally used in clothes production.
“It’s sustainable fashion. We work with organic cotton and natural dyes. We produce everything in Uruguay, either in our own studio or with third parties, all of which are led by women,” she said.
“We work with organic cotton because it’s much better for the environment than regular cotton,” Bouvier explains.
“From there, I make every step as sustainable as I can: from packing to producing to the fabrics and dyes.”
The company started exporting to the US recently and Bouvier hopes that her exposure at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva can help her to break into other markets.
“We’re working with various companies and small boutiques, and are hoping to expand to the European market as well.”
She said her participation in the Geneva event also gave her the chance to network and speak with other female business leaders.
“It was very inspiring. We are listening and joining conversations about important topics, including women breaking into markets and getting support.”
“It was amazing. It reminded me that we can get wherever we want to go, to keep doing the work we want to do.”
Bouvier was one of four SheTrades ambassadors featured at the forum, with each woman having a stall to show off their wares and the power of women in trade.
“It was also good to get to know the histories and struggles of the other SheTrades ambassadors. It pushed me to keep going.”
Her last words were on passion in business.
“I want to encourage women – and everyone else – to get into whatever they love doing and be entrepreneurs. The world’s needs more passionate companies”