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Opportunities come not once in a lifetime, but several times! We decide whether to take them or let them pass. Sometimes we take them, we live them and they end or not as we expected, then we discover that the opportunity is not in the prize or reward, but in the path, in the experience and the learning that it gave us.

To work together with Santé Cutarras, Kelsey Carlstedt visited Panama last April, who, thanks to the United States Department of States, came with her foundation The By Grace Foundation, to develop a project that will allow the entry of the first production of a collection inspired by the cutarras of Panama. The collection has 2 designs and will be on sale in LA California through the foundation's platform next summer.

The By Grace Foundation empowers women through education and becoming entrepreneurs. We teach women in underdeveloped communities a business skill, then employ these women to create our exclusive line of women's clothing and accessories. Their business model focuses on a master/apprentice training program. This allows them to employ local artisans, while educating a future generation. Creating a salable product elevates women to be self-sufficient entrepreneurs, while allowing them to tell their stories to Western consumers (US Market), who can support women's empowerment through a simple purchase. This is not charity, this is a radical change. By Grace currently has workshops in Tamale, Ghana, Kochi and Bangalore, India, and on the Rosebud Native American Reservation in the United States.

By Grace and Santé Cutarras intend to bring the By Grace master artisan/apprentice model to the artisan communities of Panama. There is a lot of talent and willingness to work. When you educate a person, you give them the tools necessary to help themselves. By partnering, we are extending Santé's market to the United States and growing By Grace's group of artisans.

Since our introduction through YLAI, By Grace and Santé Cutarras have drawn many parallels between our efforts. Our joint efforts will focus on empowerment through education in the craft of shoe making, but also providing general business knowledge within local artisan communities in rural areas of Panama City.

For Santé Cutarras, the experience of developing this collection was challenging, the tremendously informal and rudimentary industry puts an additional weight on wanting to comply with the production quality standards with which we know we want to compete internationally and in a market like the United States. However, we do not give up and continue to demand as much as possible to deliver an innovative and quality product. The great achievement was to add women to the project, in the history of the production of leather shoes in Panama, this work has always been carried out by men, the cause is directly related to the fact that the work of making these footwear requires strength to make completely manual cuts. However, we added two young women who dream of having their own business and these funds helped them pay for their studies.

Without further ado, I leave you with the first photos of the collection, which we call #AzueroCollection. They are currently being made and we hope to share them with you later once we start selling them in the North American market.

CEO & Founder Santé