Growing up, I sometimes felt like a train on a track in the sense that I was constantly moving forward on a specific path.

I had spent my life working hard and pushing myself toward various goals through opportunities I was presented, but deep down I knew I craved more. My biggest fear was that I would look back on my life’s work and find that it was devoid of any real meaning or quality substance. So, when I was working as an intern at a corporate law firm in Mexico and the opportunity presented itself — I decided to volunteer at a Humans Rights Center in Chiapas, a very poor state in the south of Mexico, high in indigenous communities.

What I saw devastated me – people living in extreme poverty with no opportunity to break free. What was interesting, however, was that these were not unskilled individuals or people without drive, they were very much like me, ready and willing to find meaning in what they do. The artisans of these areas amazed me with handmade objects they had created using knowledge that they themselves perfected. It was at this moment I realized that I needed to reset my future and focus on what I was always called to do – create better opportunities for those without.

Despite some thinking I was insane for changing my life course so drastically, ignoring them turned out to be the best thing I could do for myself. I began to surround myself with people who shared my same intense passion and from this, LAZO was born. LAZO is a platform that supports Mexican artisans’ rights.

The work we do is so very close to my heart. Over the last few years, interest in local arts and traditional textiles has grown exponentially, and I really wanted to be on the front lines of this surge to provide support and structure at a local level. Mexico has such beautiful heritage and artistry to share, and I realized it was time for those who created it to get an advocate that they deserve.

Of course, it was frustratingly difficult at times, and with no immediate results the gratification could be hard to see. The constant uphill climb of new business is a daunting thing and it’s clear why many are hesitant to take that leap, but I’ve found that’s half the fun of it all. For me it’s never work, it’s my life. When I can go to an artist’s village and tell them that their products are now being sold around the world, and that their own business is thriving because of the work they themselves are doing I feel an immense sense of pride.

The lessons I have learned and will continue to learn from LAZO are countless, but one thing that continues to ring true is that the key to personal happiness is by unlocking your own passion and using it for others. LAZO has provided me with an outlet I never knew I needed, and the fact that it’s an institution that enacts positive change that I myself created is more rewarding than I ever understood it could be. Looking back, my advice to women of any age is to follow your passions completely and unapologetically. There will always be those telling you no, telling you to settle, or telling you to follow another path. If you carve your own, and you dictate your own future, you’ll find something incredibly worthwhile – yourself.