Yvette Perez-Sosa headshot
Entrepreneur Yvette Perez-Sosa founded Finding Vettey after a nine-month backpacking trip, where she discovered a community of local handmade artisans. — Finding Vettey

Yvette Perez-Sosa always knew she wanted to start a business, but she wanted it to be authentically her. As a first-generation U.S.-born daughter of immigrant parents, she wanted to deeply explore her Mexican heritage and understand how it led her to become the person she is today.

In 2016, Perez-Sosa quit her job in interior design, packed a backpack and bought a one-way ticket to Panama. In a nine-month span, she traveled to Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico, before returning to Guatemala.

Perez-Sosa traveled with the intention of returning to her roots. Through her journey of self-discovery, she fell in love with the work of local artisans who made goods unlike anything she had seen in America. Perez-Sosa wanted to share these unique goods from the artists she met, so she took to social media and started Finding Vettey.

“[Finding Vettey] started as an Instagram account to tell my stories of my travels, but it grew [into] my business,” Perez-Sosa told CO—.

[Read: DIY Apparel Entrepreneur Pivots Her Business Efforts During COVID-19]

As part of her business model, Perez-Sosa prioritizes giving back to the artisan communities she works with — an important value instilled in her by her parents and extended family in Mexico.

“A portion of my proceeds will go back to communities to help with any essentials, and most importantly for education or food,” she said.

I love what I do, because I know it is art and it is one of a kind, and these women live to do this.

Yvette Perez-Sosa, founder, Finding Vettey

Adapting an international handmade business to the COVID-19 world

A struggle for every business during the coronavirus pandemic has been keeping employees connected when working remotely while providing the same standard of service. This is an even greater challenge when your vendors are international and you're selling handmade art — a commodity that people spend less on during times of crisis.

Perez-Sosa didn't let this deter her. Instead, she leaned into consumers’ needs during the pandemic: Finding Vettey started selling masks made from cotton woven by artists on a foot loom in Guatemala. She also stayed connected with all of her artists virtually.

“I've been messaging the artisans via WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram because a lot of them don't have Zoom,” said Perez-Sosa. “It's been amazing establishing these virtual relationships with them, [and] when one day I do see them in person, it will be amazing. I cannot wait!”

The pandemic has been a time of fear and uncertainty for many, especially for solopreneurs and working moms like Perez-Sosa. She finds her energy and motivation in knowing that she empowers artists and gives them a platform to share their one-of-a-kind art.

“I love what I do, because I know it is art and it is one of a kind, and these women live to do this,” she said. “And who doesn't love to have something they love to do every day?”

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Published January 19, 2021