Bold stories that inspire - Maia Teler a social entrepreneur in action - Lupin Lime
Updated: May 13
By Laurens VerhagenMetman and Valéry Van Gorp, Young and Bold Contributors.
Earlier this month we sat with Maia Teler. She shared with Young & Bold her work at Lupin Lime, and her story as a social entrepreneur.
Where did the name Lupin Lime come from?
The Lupin is my favorite flower, which is very popular in the South of Argentina. I used to go on holidays in this region with my family and friends when I was young, for some of my most memorable vacations. The Lupin always had a special place in my heart. Incorporating the lime was a way to connect the brand to the fresh and catchy styles we create.
What is the mission of Lupin Lime?
We want to be a bridge between Latin American design and the rest of the world, providing pieces of art generated by independent goldsmiths who share our values, thus helping the dissemination and training of artists of the region.
What goals are your company focused on currently?
Although we are a young company, we have a lot of ambition and we have already built quite a great network within Latin America. The designers and artists we have connected with can help educate and build techniques that can have a great long-term impact on the South American people. From this network we hope to create a sustainable work environment especially after these difficult Covid-19 times. We currently have 40 artists and are still growing.
What are some long-term objectives you would like to complete?
When we have the opportunity, we will focus even more on expanding the social aspect as well as our network in Latin America. Building the program to help give people the tools to create their own business and a sustainable future for themselves and their families. We will listen to what the needs of the people are and adapt ourselves to what they need.
We also hope to expand our network in Latin America to be active in more countries. And of course, we want to raise awareness in Europe and around the world of the amazing art and history of Latin America.
What connected you to jewelry?
My grandma is my biggest inspiration, when I was young we would make jewelry and other fashion accessories together, helping me fall in love with the art. She taught me many techniques and made some of my favorite pieces I still wear today. She taught me so much about jewelry like how to create everyday styles that make amazing gifts.
I always knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry because I wanted to express myself and my culture. I found a special connection with the resources in Latin America as well as the diverse styles and distinct processes that the people have passed down through generational knowledge.
Why is sustainability important to you?
Handmade, not just sustainable but every piece is unique and shows the artists energy and culture of the region. The focus on handmade and local resources naturally incorporates the idea of sustainability into the designs.
I believe that sustainable handmade products create a special relationship between the artist, the jewelry, and the buyer.
How did your family get involved?
My family is full of entrepreneurs and my mom specifically was an entrepreneur in Argentina. She founded and grew and educational institution for almost 30 years. She is now my partner in Argentina. With her experience she will help build a strong social program in the company. It’s amazing to be able to work together with my mom.
So, you work together with your mom, that’s beautiful! How big is your team?
The operational team is just me and my mom right now. Eventually we will need more people to work with the social program and knowledge building for the people that need help, dependent on what they need help with.
We work in partnership with the goldsmithing school and the program we designed within the school has been created and funded by us. The artists we work with are all independent.
What are the opportunities for advancement for the people within the organization?
The program of 9 months is split into 2 parts. Half of the program they attend a goldsmithing school, learning techniques and how to work different materials. After finishing these 9 months, they will work with local artists to develop business skills. During this time, we pay their salaries while they gain experience in the field.
In this way they work in the local industry with the artists that they have built connections with throughout the program.
How does Lupin Lime develop talent?
The artists we buy from are very talented, but through our social aspect we help build the skills of developing artists by setting up connections and educational programs.
Besides technical skills we also help develop business skills to develop their careers. Such as resume building, social media skills, and interview preparation.
Is strengthening your weaknesses or developing your strengths more important to you?
I would say developing strengths. We can never be good at everything of course so I think it’s important to focus on what people are good at and connect them to people with complimentary skills. To create value through connections and collaborations. In this way stronger communities can be built.
How do you see Lupin Lime changing in the next two years moving forward? How can people help to create this change?
The more artists we have the more availability we have for placement. We are also building connections with NGOs in South America to help train, find jobs, connect and sell the art across the world.
As we find out more about what communities really need, we will develop our expertise and expand our team to meet these needs.
What is the best piece of advice you have for future entrepreneurs?
My best piece of advice, as a new entrepreneur myself, would be that it never seems like the perfect moment to start; you just need to take the leap and have the courage to jump in and make the first step.