Today we’d like to introduce you to Ana Marina Sanchez.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ana Marina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up in Mexico City, I was always a creative child. I would spend my time inventing perfumes in my grandma‘s garden, making dresses for my barbies and building tiny houses for my dolls using rocks and mud. I would also waste hours playing with my abuelas jewelry and makeup whenever she opened her “treasure box.”
My family and I migrated to the United States when I was 15 years old and I had to grow up faster than most people. When we arrived in Los Angeles, I immediately had to get side jobs to help my family. I also had to learn to speak English and I focus on my education by going into a career that would provide me a promising future. My parents had made many sacrifices to come to this country so focusing on studying art seemed like a waste of time and that was not really an option for me or my family. Instead, the new dream was to become a History and Spanish professor, two fields I’m also really passionate about. But that dream was cut short. When I graduated college in 2011, I really didn’t have the option to work in my field because I was a Dreamer (undocumented student). This was before DACA so no employer would hire me even with a degree.
It was then that my creative side took over my life again. I had to find ways to sustain myself and help my family, but this time I wouldn’t go the conventional route, I would use my imagination and creativity to make something that could not only help me economically but would help me reconnect and tap into my creative side.
I think it was the first weekend after I graduated from college that I began playing with jewelry making. I got together with a friend who shared with me the passion of collecting handcrafted jewelry, however this time we were going to make it. I started sharing my new creations with my friends, family and in social media and in no time, I started selling my earrings with my immediate circle and eventually ventured to craft events.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There’s a quote from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado that goes “Caminante no hay camino. Se hace el camino al andar.” It translates to “Wayfarer, there is no way. Make your way by going farther.” I believe there’s no other quote that can describe my journey better. The road had never been paved for me and my family. I’ve had to pave the way for myself with every step I’ve taken.
In the process, I have encountered many challenges. However, every bump on the road has helped me grow. Having to find ways to open doors for myself has made me resilient and face every challenge with courage and creativity. Now that I am no longer undocumented, I choose to be an entrepreneur and work on my craft business. I choose to follow my passion and give all my energy to grow and excel doing what I love. I also like to work with my community and help empower others through my work.
If I could go back in time, maybe there is one thing I would change and that is pursuing my passion for art in my early academic life. So many people struggle to find what their passion in life is, others know at an early age what their calling is. My advice to anyone is; pursue your passion. Go for your dreams no matter how big or small they are. Work on yourself and the person you want to become by aligning your dreams with your values and set up systems that will help you to get to where you want to be.
What should we know about Ana Marina Studio? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
For a few years, I treated my jewelry as a side business. Although I was able to work on other exciting fields like TV production, I would always hope to one day work on my craft business full-time. A few of years ago, I decided to go back to school to study metal-smithing, the ancient art of handcrafted metal jewelry. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it allowed me to acquire the skills and knowledge I needed to set a foundation for my business. These past couple of years my business and I have grown so much, and I continue to grow with it as I train myself to master this ancient art. I established my brand; Ana Marina Studio in 2017 and launched my website that same year and as a new decade begins, I have decided to work full-time in my business and take my brand to new and exciting levels.
I am a silversmith and a jewelry designer. My jewelry is a celebration of who I am and where I come from. It’s important for me to transmit my passion for my history through my work. My pieces elevate Latinx culture and intend to adorn those who wear them with meaning and elegance. My inspiration to create statement pieces comes from the legacy of ancient cultures such as Aztec and Mayan that used jewelry as a form of adornment. I love to create pieces made with silver, gold, jade, turquoise and other precious metals and stones.
I’m proud to be where I am today, even though I know the road is long ahead I still have accomplished so much. I am proud of not giving up even when every door kept closing on me and for using these setbacks as an opportunity to create a hand-crafted jewelry business.
My husband and I moved to Denver in 2018 and although it was not an easy transition, through my work and my brand I have been able to create meaningful connections with amazing people and local organizations. Last year in March, along with three other amazing women I organized “Latinas Lideres y Emprendedoras,” the first Spanish language lead event during the Week of Women Colorado. This event highlighted panelist and their inspiring stories and hosted a craft market, Mercado Monarca, which opened space for immigrant women to sell their handmade crafts. The money we raised was donated to Casa de Paz an organization in Denver that works with displaced immigrant communities in Colorado and the US border. This year we plan to bring back this event and use the money to set up a scholarship fund to support undocumented students in their academic road.
I believe we all have our own unique stories. I feel fortunate for all the experiences and lessons that make up mine. Every experience has shaped me to be the person who I am today. Being an immigrant and having to learn a new language and a new culture was not easy, but it has allowed me to see the potential in me. Being from Mexico City, growing up in Los Angeles and now living in Denver has taught me to navigate through different worlds and use my creativity to not only survive but to thrive.
For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
I believe women are capable to excel in any job. However, we still face many challenges in the workplace such as not getting paid equally as men. Latina women get paid 54 cents for every dollar a white non-hispanic male makes. Facts like this are unacceptable and will continue to affect women’s opportunities for growth until the gap disappears. Nonetheless, women are in the forefront of entrepreneurship by owning their own business and starting new industries that create jobs and opportunities for other women.
- Hand Crafted Jewelry from $45 and up
- Custom Jewelry Orders $100 and up
- Jewelry making workshops $50 per session
- Website: AnaMarinaStudio.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anamarinajewelry/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LunaMarinaCreations/
Chip Latshaw; Amy Bailey; Claudia Alvarado; Astrid Anderson