Grandmas are the best. They help us learn about our family’s past and share advice on where to steer our family’s future. Mine help me define my style, find my voice and dig out my strength. Last year I discovered a fellow creative, whose grandmothers mean the world to her too.
This month’s f*#king awesome jobber has a healthy respect for her two Abuelitas. Lola y Tula owner Gardenia Woodhams-Roberts, an LA native who imports the most gorgeous Mexican textiles, garments and accessories loves her grannies so much she named her company after them.
“It is their model of integrity and pride I would like to mirror with the beautiful items featured on ‘Lola y Tula’. Just like them, each item is extraordinary and exemplifies the highest standard of quality, traditions, artistry and the story of generations carrying out the customs of the people of Mexico,” notes Woodhams-Roberts.
I first discovered Lola y Tula and #girlboss Gardenia via her mega vibrant Instagram feed. She’s chums with former Vancouverite Jaime Kowal and her textiles and wares adorn many California abodes, including one of my favourite Palm Springs hotels: The Junipero. Her snaps are filled with the colours of the rainbow and traditional Mexican weavings and patterns from a number of regions. Last year I asked Woodhams-Roberts to share her story and tips on being the CEO/CFO/CAO of a beautiful textile company built on lady power and granny love.
Name, Title, Age, Location?
Gardenia Woodhams-Robters, Owner of Lola Y Tula, 38 , Los Angeles.
So how did you get that f*#king awesome job? Can you describe what your job is and what it is that you do?
I’m the owner of Lola y Tula, it’s a small online business selling Mexican folk art, handpicked and personally curated by me. It’s just me so I do everything: CEO, CFO, Merchandiser, VP of Sales, shipper, marketing and on occasion – photographer.
I’ve always wanted to do something on my own and after starting a family, it felt like I couldn’t pass the opportunity to quit dreaming of being a working mother from home and actually try!
Did you have to give anything up to get here?
Yes I did- a SALARY!! I didn’t miss the 9-5 office hours and stress of my former job but certainly missed the paycheck! But unfortunately, in the US, many Mothers don’t really have an option of going back to work since childcare is so costly, it really doesn’t make sense. That was half the case with me, I’d be working very hard for an enormous chunk of my salary just going to pay full time care. Personally, I wanted to be home with my babies, so starting a business felt like the best thing for myself and my family.
Who or what has been your mentor/inspiration along the way?
My family is my inspiration. My business is named after my grandmothers, but my mentor in life would be my mother, hands down. She’s a rockstar and I only hope to have her kind of success in my life.
In three words or less, what’s the best part of your job?
Finally being able to create. I’ve been in sales all my life for other brands and products. I always had a hand in the creative process, but actually being able to collaborate with artists to create original Lola y Tula products has been so exhilarating!
In three words or less, what’s the worst part of your job?
Meetings for one?
I truly believe two heads are better than one, so I’m definitely missing a team of talented people to work with, bounce ideas off of etc… but one day soon I hope to be hiring a few great employees so this solo business turns into the empire I dream off!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was lucky enough to be brought up by a fantastic mother who worked! So, I wanted nurturing jobs that reminded me of her, like teachers and pediatrician. But I also wanted to be a Judge in the 5th grade… I’ve always like playing fair- still do, so perhaps I liked the idea of calling the shots!
What is your drink of choice?
This summer it’s been a Campari Spritzer!
Where was the last place you travelled?
Sweden! My whole family made it all the way over there for a fabulous wedding and luckily my next will be Mexico!
What’s on your playlist right now?
WARPAINT…. New Song is just the absolute best.
What are your top three reads vis a vis your career (books, magazines, manuals, podcasts)?
I actually followed a few online businesses and blogs that inspired me tons when it came to figuring out what kind of online presence I wanted for Lola y Tula. Goop, I thought did a great job of speaking to a their direct markets, Justina Blakeney at The Jungalow was a great blog that developed into several businesses, all that really carry her trademark well- everything so on brand, she does such a great job.
Any advice for someone who’s looking to lock down their f*#king awesome job?
You need to go through lots of bad ideas before you get to your light bulb moment… so I used to try to of a bad idea everyday… an idea for a product or service, anything… and I’d hold on to it until I debunked why we should go forward with it. Once I figured it wasn’t worth pursuing, I’d move on the next! Until finally, I arrived at Lola y Tula!
What does the future behold for your f*#king awesome job?
The future is limitless! Soon I hope to have a line of products available for fabulous retailers across America as a wholesale business, as well as my retail business! Have my beautiful Lola y Tula original pillows on sofas and beds all across the country!
Be sure to check out Lola y Tula’s boho folk decor, Tlaxcala textiles and global threads here.