In a age when profits and bottom lines are a company's measure of success, rarely do we find a company whose idea of success is having a positive impact on the world. Get ready to restore your faith in humanity. Meet Marleny and Paulina, a mother daughter duo, who envisioned a company that not only provides jobs but also assistance to those in need. They imagined a world one could be proud to be living in and the passion to create a company whose sole purpose is helping others. The effort that Marleny and Paulina have put into their mission can only be described as love, Luca Love.
Paulina was born in Houston, Texas, but her family has deep roots in Colombia. Her parents, Marleny and Jorge, were born and raised in Colombia, and while they loved their country, they wanted better opportunities for their family. Growing up, Paulina was no stranger to her parents' true home. Every summer, her and her family would travel back and forth between Colombia and Houston, and she always considered both places home. During her high school years, her parents decided they were ready to go back to Colombia and stay. However 4 years later, Paulina decided to attend college in The States. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Houston Bauer College of Business, but she craved something more.
In 2011, Paulina lost her uncle Luis Carlos to cancer. He was like a father figure to her while growing up. She had to so much respect and admiration for her uncle's way of life by helping others and treating everyone as if they were family. His death was her first loss of someone very close to her heart, and she knew that her uncle's love for others was something she wanted to carry on.
While attending college the summer of 2012, Paulina went to Southeast Asia to study abroad. The trip focused on the concept of Microfinance and helping others through business. It was a huge life changing experience for her. She got to learn how she could take matters into her own hands and help create opportunities to those less fortunate. After that trip, she would catch herself day dreaming about one day doing the same things for both of her homes, Houston and Colombia.
Once she graduated in 2014, Paulina was on a mission to find a career that she could feel passionate about and something that her uncle would be proud of. After many interviews and job offers she didn't have the heart to accept, she took a leap of faith and started something truly inspiring all on her own.
While both of her parents were retired and living in Colombia, Paulina flew back to talk to her mom about her idea of creating something that not only she could make a career out of, but something she could do that would live out the memory of Luis Carlos. After much convincing and many jokes about Paulina being crazy, her parents, being the amazing people they are, gave her their full support. That same week, Paulina and her mom, Marleny, took their first Macrame class together (macrame is the technique used to make all Luca Love's signature bracelets).
When Paulina flew back to Houston, she brought back batch of 20 bracelets she and Marleny had made. In one night at her waitressing job, she had sold every single one. After that, the word about the Colombian-made bracelets spread quickly, and she was getting more and more requests about them. Paulina called her mom and asked if she was ready to start teaching others how to make the bracelets. Right before her eyes, she was doing what she was set out to do; helping others help themselves by creating employment to those less fortunate.
Marleny was on a mission. She wanted to find someone deserving; someone who didn't have the same opportunities as most. A woman who was the head of her household that had mouths to feed, but somehow could never make ends meet, a woman who needed help financially to provide education for there children, or a student who didn't have the money to continue their studies.
Marleny designs the style of each bracelet. She gets her inspiration from many different aspects; the colors of the season, current trends, nature, styles that are suited for all ages, she even claims that some of her ideas have come to her in her sleep. Marley keeps all these things in mind when she is shopping at local Colombian markets for all the material needed to create each and every bracelet. Once buying her material, she then sits down, brings all her designs together and makes each idea come to life.
Being able to help people who truly need it with Luca Love's Monthly Cause and building opportunities of employment to those in need is the most gratifying feeling to Marleny. It's also exciting to her when she witnesses how the sale of even one bracelet is helping those less fortunate.
Marley's biggest wish for Luca Love is for God to let her reach her goal to one day open a workshop and be able to employ many more woman in need. She wishes to see Luca Love world wide and be able to make more opportunities to the people who need it the most and that way make their life a bit easier.
Luca Love has been and continues to be a blessing in many people's lives. Luca Love has helped many organizations in its first year and continues to do so every month.
"What inspired me to create Luca Love was the concept of helping others help themselves, I'd like to give an opportunity to those who want to succeed through education and employment, but don't have the means to do so. I don't want to just sell a bracelet, I want to sell the purpose. "
- Paulina Tobon
In Loving Memory of Luis Carlos Marulanda
Te queremos mucho Caliche!
A special thanks to Katie McLearen and Brenda Zapata for putting this blog together.