A crew of colorful yet menacing lucha libre masks stare at you as you walk by the vibrant Mixcoatl at 3201 24th Street. Sonora Dinamita, Hector Lavoe, and a song featuring Marc Anthony and La India play over the loudspeaker, spilling Latino sounds onto the streets.
This store is Connie Rivera’s “home,” which she opened in 2004. There she speaks Spanish, English and French — a language she taught herself, to communicate with the influx of tourists from France and Canada that visit the shop to buy Huichol jewelry, T-shirts designed by her husband, elaborate art, mercado bags, and more.
The store, Rivera says, represents “mi vida — my life.”
“Apart from my family, it signifies a lot, because for me it’s very important to maintain our traditions and represent the culture also. It’s a form for us, also,” she explains, “to keep alive the traditions, the art … It’s important to maintain and know it, but to support it.”
“Through a purchase, of a piece of jewelry, or art, or clothes,” she says, “well, you’re not just helping me, but many families there in Mexico, or in those parts of America. We battle, we battle. Not only us, but the people who make it [the crafts].”
“The truth [is], my work is very important. Like I told you, we started from zero. Without capital. But there was a dream, and there was an idea. That dream has been made a reality through … Mixcoatl. But also, the credit,” she adds, “also is for the people who make it. The artisans, the families — all the families that make the art.”