Mexico In My Pocket founder Luisa Navarro
Mexico In My Pocket founder Luisa Navarro stands in her Brooklyn shop. Credit: Modelo

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.

The day, which falls on Thursday, May 5 in 2022, is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has Americanized into a day celebrating of Mexican culture with factory-produced piñatas and sombreros offering little real knowledge of the day’s history.

This year, Modelo commits to bringing authentic Mexican heritage back to Cinco de Mayo through its Cinco Auténtico campaign– one that encourages consumers to forgo mass-produced party supplies and opt instead for artisan goods from Mexican-American-owned small businesses.

Luisa Navarro’s small business, Mexico In My Pocket, out of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn offers precisely that!

Navarro’s first iteration of “Mexico In My Pocket” came in the form of an Instagram page where she began posting colorful photos of Mexico’s beauty. Eventually, the page morphed into a blog, which then turned into an online gift shop.  

This candle holder featured in Navarro’s shop was crafted by a blind potter named Jose Garcia. Credit: Modelo

“It was very unexpected … I wouldn’t have done any of this without COVID,” Navarro said. “It was a crisis moment where the artisans really needed those sales.”

During the pandemic, when international travel shuttered, Mexico’s artisans suffered. Their income often relies on the patronage of visiting tourists. Navarro witnessed this problem and jumped into action, pivoting Mexico In My Pocket towards selling the artisans’ handmade goods.

A “Marranito” featured in Navarro’s shop. Women of San Marcos Tlapazola sculpt the pig vases. Credit: @mexicoinmypocket on Instagram

A clay pig vase—“marranito” in Spanish—marked the first product she sold through her site. 

What started as Navarro’s passion project in 2015 gradually turned into a flourishing business and full-time job. After mastering the ins and outs of sales and distribution, Navarro opened her Brooklyn brick-and-mortar shop in May of 2021.

In her store, Navarro features products from a variety of Mexican artists across the enormous and diverse country.

“I would like to shed light more on the people behind this artisan craft,” Navarro said. “It’s part of their tradition, part of their culture that they have been working on for centuries.”

Another product featured in Navarro’s shop: wool giraffes. These Chiapas “animalitos” were originally created using leftover fabric from wood clothing. Credit: Modelo

From a blind potter ​​Jose Garcia’s orange clay candle holders to Abigail and Lili Mendez’s Chiapas-born wool giraffes, Navarro loves telling the stories of the pieces she curates and the artisans who craft them.

“We’re more than just a gift shop … I think of us as a platform, and our mission is to share the beauty of Mexican culture with the world,” Navarro said.

Modelo presents the collection of small businesses and their work on its Instagram Experience, which they aptly coined the “Modelo Mercado.”

The Cinco Auténtico campaign started April 26 and will run until May 2.

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