Namesake: Ana Tulia or "MamaTu", as she was affectionately called, was Karen's maternal grandmother. MamaTu was an example of unconditional love, wholehearted generosity and unyielding service to both family and community. Instilled with these same values, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, now scattered across 4 continents are ever committed to family, community, and service.
With these values in mind, TULIA'S ARTISAN GALLERY was created to showcase the artistic treasures of Colombia. We source directly from master artisans working to preserve ancestral lands, culture, and traditions. Introducing their treasures to new markets, creates fair wage jobs, and revitalizes indigenous knowledge and traditions. Our mission is to continue to live the values Mama Tu embodied while ethically sourcing the wealth of art Colombia has to offer.
CEO & Founder: Karen Torres is a Chicago native, born to Colombian immigrants. She's had a lifelong desire to learn about her Colombian heritage, especially the indigenous half of her ancestry. Her indigenous ancestors were most likely Muysca, from present-day Boyacá. While history books claim the Muysca are extinct, there is a fervent reclaiming and reconstruction of Muysca culture & knowledge in and around Bogota. Thus, Karen is committed to working with indigenous artisans and ancestral techniques whenever possible and supports projects that preserve the rich ethnic history and art of Colombia’s indigenous peoples.
Warehouse Manager: Caroline Magnuson is a genius at spacial organization and is in her happy place when folding and stuffing boxes with Flying Mobiles. When she is not making boxes, she is making cookies! Caroline's side hussle is making custom cookies and gourmet chocolates & sweets. Her website will be coming soon!
MEET THE MAKERS
Master Makers of the Flying Mobiles Collection: Isabel and her team make the very popular Flying Mobiles. It takes great skill and years of experience to paint the wings and body to each mobile. Only two artisans have mastered the ability to paint wings. Isabel has been able to increase the number of full-time employees by 80% since working for Tulia's. Most are single-parent (moms & dads) heads of households. New designs are co-created with Karen, Isabel and her partner Federico. Tulia's is proud to support the continued growth of Isabel's workshop.
Master Makers of the Bronze Butterfly Collection: Adriana & Juan Carlos design and create the bronze butterfly ornaments. Originally trained as paper artists, they switched to working with bronze to create a brand new art form. Their combined love of nature drives most of their creativity and designs. They create fair wage jobs in a small town in central Colombia.
Master Makers of the Woven Jewelry, Beaded Earrings, and Fine Art Basket Collections: The Wounaan Nonam people of Choco are renowned for creating the finest woven baskets in the world. Tulia's works directly with a community internally displaced from their rainforest homelands living in a large urban city. Even during displacement, this community is still at risk of violence, thus Tulia's takes great care to not identify Wounaan partners by name or face on public sites. Click here for more information about the Wounaan.
Master Makers of Bird Earrings & Face Mask Chains: Mary & Luis are a loving couple whose talent and creativity have grown to develop a unique line of accessories made with totumo gourds. They combine the ancestral techniques of Luis' indigenous MOKANÁ tribe with modern trends. They create fair-wage jobs for indigenous Mokaná artisans and women heads of households in Northern Colombia.
Tulia's Artisan Gallery is a proud member of Chicago Fair Trade (CFT). CFT is the largest fair trade coalition in the USA, comprised of a dedicated base of member businesses, educational institutions, congregations, non-profit organizations, and individual activists. CFT increases support for economic and environmental justice through consumer education, advocacy, and promotion of local fair trade businesses. CFT is proud to be a local and national leader in raising awareness about and building support for fair trade and its principles of environmental sustainability, ethical production methods, fair wages, and safe working conditions.
Tulia's Artisan Gallery was accepted into the Fair Trade Federation as a verified fair trade organization on August 1, 2018. Our acceptance into the FTF reflects our deep commitment to the principles of fair trade. We are joining a community dedicated to the highest standards of fair trade and the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world. Learn more about verified FTF members and the fair trade principles here.
WBEZ Worldview, Sept 8, 2016
Voyage Chicago, April 24, 2018