From Mexico with Love: Countering Stereotypes and Stigma through Cutting-Edge Fashion

For Sandra Quimiro, a 2018 PEIF Fund Mentee, Know Mexico Company (KMC) – the fashion company she established in May 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta – is a product of her drive to bring Mexico to the world in the hope of countering stereotypes and stigma. Quimiro hopes that in establishing a platform to enable people encounter Mexico with the riches of its cultures and traditions, she can contribute towards ending stereotypes and stigma against her home country, Mexico. This goal is even more important now in the current political climate when rising waves of nationalism and populism have led to a ratcheting of anti-immigration rhetoric against immigrants and peoples of colour.

Beyond fighting stereotypes, however, Quimiro’s KMC is also a long-held passion for a young woman determined to keep her culture alive and bring it to the world stage. KMC is a 100% Mexican company dedicated to manufacturing high quality clothing that combines traditional designs from Mexico with modern fashion. It has highs hopes of expanding worldwide, but is content for now with 10 distribution points in London, Mexico and Edmonton. In exploring the roots of Mexican culture and community through clothes made from the highest quality material by an intricate process of handmade printing and stitching over a two-week period for each cloth, Quimiro and KMC`s principal purpose is Mexican education for the world – education through clothes that are peculiarly Mexican so that through the designs, the ancient riches of the Aztec, Mayan, Olmecan and Teotihuacan peoples and cultures could be re-visited, re-encountered and re-experienced. The clothes are 95% Mexican cotton and 5% lycra.

Slideshow: Some of Quimiro's Designs

In her entrepreneurial journey, Quimiro has had the support of her PEIF Fund Mentor, Ms. Tatiana Lissov Kastner, whom Sandra describes as “an amazing woman”. Of their professional relationship, Quimiro remarks that Ms. Kastner “is always keeping” her in “check”.

Ms. Kastner who applies her rich and diverse experience and expertise in tech and business to support local women in Edmonton, has been a constant source of support and a sounding board for Sandra Quimiro.

Sandra Quimiro and Mentor, Ms. Tatania Lissov Kastner

On November 17, 2018, Quimiro held her second annual fashion show to showcase the KMC winter collection. The ceremony kicked off with a tasting of traditional Mexican dishes, as well as performances by artists from different backgrounds.

Besides these shows, Quimiro manages to put together from time to time Mexican-themed events, which bring together artists and small businesses to celebrate over food and drinks. One of those events, held on September 15, 2018, was also an opportunity for Sandra to support the PEIF Fund’s Kids Food Basket (KFB) Program for children-in-need in Edmonton. While the KFB program runs an annual campaign to collect food donations to support the Edmonton Food Bank, food donations collected at local events such as this are immediately delivered to the Food Bank as acts of kindness that are small steps towards the main annual event. During the celebration, some mentees and members of the PEIF Fund got together to collect food donations for children-in-need in Edmonton and these were delivered to the Edmonton Food Bank.

While building KMC, Quimiro continues to work hard at her studies at MacEwan University where she is studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Molecular Genetics and minoring in International Business. Her passion for her work and the future comes through easily. Using the medium of clothes through the KMC Platform, Sandra Quimiro is not only raising Mexico before the world, she is poised to accomplish much more.

Sandra Quimiro and a KMC Model

KMC is yet a very young venture, but Sandra hopes that through its clothes, her customers will encounter Mexico in new ways – and hopefully free of stigma or stereotypes.