Buena Onda is a lifestyle brand that uses social enterprise to bring love, community, and empowerment to the Wayuu People of Colombia.
The Wayuu People are an indigenous people spread out through Northern Colombia and Venezuela. They are known for their beautiful hand woven products that they have been making for hundreds of years. The most famous items they make are Wayuu mochilas.
A Wayuu mochila is a unique piece of art that is not replicated. They are made by hand without a loom, and it can take a Wayuu woman anywhere from ten to thirty days to complete one mochila. The patterns are specific to the woman or family that makes each bag, and the colors are made from natural dyes. For that reason, Buena Onda does not attempt to control the colors and the designs of the Wayuu mochilas. These Wayuu women infuse each bag with a part of their culture and tradition, and we want to honor that process.
The Story of Buena Onda:
In 2010, Kevin Kennedy first came across these colorful, handmade bags while backpacking through Colombia. At that point, all he could do was bring home two of these one-of-a-kind bags home for his mom and sister in Nebraska. However, as Kevin was dreaming of returning to South America for a more permanent stay, he recalled the Wayuu mochilas that were unlike anything he had seen anywhere else.
Rather than work within a traditional micro-loan framework of teaching new skills so that impoverished communities can support themselves, Kevin knew that the Wayuu had more than enough skills to support themselves; they just needed a bigger market.
He dreamed of connecting the Wayuu from the desert in Colombia with the world through these handmade bags. That way, in the developed world where almost everything is mass-produced, someone could have a bag that’s unique, handmade, and well-made while helping with the Wayuu’s needs by ensuring that they are paid fairly for the intense work they put into each bag. For that reason, Buena Onda buys the bags directly from the makers, avoiding middlemen who take a significant cut for themselves, and pay the women more than fair trade prices.
Kevin chose to name the company Buena Onda because it is one of his core values. Literally translated, Buena Onda means “Good Wavelength." However, it is an emotional saying that describes the essence of something. Buena Onda maintains this value at its core, as a socially minded company that aims to treat everyone fairly. The Wayuu people are at the heart of Buena Onda, and it is in their interest that we make the decisions we do.