Mexico Life
Artist Sandra Herrera. Artist Sandra Herrera. lynda lock

Yesterday’s news is today’s new business

Reading newspapers led to a new career as an artist for Isla Mujeres woman

Who’d have guessed that your morning newspaper and coffee could be turned into art?

What began as method to learn English, reading discarded newspapers from the hotel where her papá worked, has turned into a thriving business for Sandra Herrera.

Nine years ago she moved to Isla Mujeres from the silver town of Taxco in the state of Guerrero. Soon her sister Monica followed, then her dad and finally she returned to Taxco to bring her mom and younger brother to the island.

Working at a local café, Rooster on the Go, her boss urged her to learn English. She attended the English School on Isla for a year and a half, and diligently read the newspapers. Slowly, slowly she learned to understand, and then speak the language.

Then her life took a funny little twist. She made a small basket out of the discarded newspapers as a gift for a customer at the coffee shop.

The recipient was delighted: “It’s beautiful! Why don’t you make more of these?” Using glue to bind the rolled paper and coffee to varnish the finished products she created more baskets to sell at the café.

When she was approached by Brad and Tiffany Wareing of Barlito’s to participate in their first Isla Mujeres artist’s fair, Sandra shyly agreed to display her work. She was pleasantly surprised when her creations sold at the event. Sandra agreed to participate in the second show as a way to practice her English.

Later, when the monthly Artist Fair changed locations from the street corner in front of Barlito’s to the larger Isla Mujeres municipal plaza, Sandra continued to participate, gaining more confidence and selling more of her art work.

Recently Sandra decided to take the plunge, selling her creations at Jenny Penny Beach Boutique on Matamoros Avenue. She said the scariest part of being a business owner is keeping up with the demand for new product and special orders. Even though discarded newspapers are plentiful on the island, she still needs a steady supply of clean papers to keep up.

Sandra smiled as she recounted one incident: she was checking various nearby garbage cans for newspapers when a customer from the café recognized her. She laughed with embarrassment, feeling a bit foolish at being caught with her hands in the garbage can. If you happen to have newspapers that you are throwing out, why not drop them off at the store and check out her newest designs.

You will also find Sandra at new location for the Isla Mujeres Artist Fair, at the Casa de la Cultura near the corner of Abasolo and Guerrero avenues. The fair is held on the first and third Thursday of each month, although the winter months generally attract more artisans and customers.

Be sure to stop by and say hello to Sanda Herrera. You’ll love her news worthy designs.

The writers are Canadians who have been full-time residents of Isla Mujeres for nearly 10 years. You can read their blog here.

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