28 Mar, 2017 | Sophie Hogan
Photos: Nick Somers and Sophie Hogan
A Concept Store for Bolivia's Best and Brightest
Mistura’s name comes from the word ‘mixture’. When one walks in the door of the store on Calle Sagarnaga, La Paz’s most touristy street, it is clear why. Luisa Campero, the young and ambitious leader of this concept boutique takes Bolivia’s unique and impressive blend of cultures and amalgamates them into a gorgeous array of products. Although the items scream modernity and innovation, they still highlight the most beautiful aspects of traditional Bolivian culture. From designer alpaca garments, to books, to Bolivian-style hats and beautiful bath products, this place has everything necessary for a supreme artisan shopping experience.
Luisa has a strong, business-like manner, but not enough to deem her unapproachable. She looks like a successful young woman who has worked hard to get to the floor she stands upon now – and so she has.
'It was 2013, and we started the shop as four women,’ Campero says. ‘I was the one who was mostly in charge of the creation, but I was always in contact with them and keeping them updated.’ We are sitting in the neighbouring Café Banais which, along with the Hostal Naira upstairs, is linked to the store. Customers drinking their coffee can take a sneak peek at the wonderful products on display at Mistura through a large window.
Mistura opened in September of 2013, featuring the work of 14 designers. Now, as the shop has developed its relationship with other artists, it is working with small firms and people who are just coming out of university, as well as with larger companies. 'These days, we work with over 80 designers from all over Bolivia, and only Bolivia,’ Louisa says. ‘We are constantly renovating, constantly innovating.'
Mistura’s location on Calle Sagarnaga is ideal because nearly every tourist who visits La Paz visits the street to buy souvenirs, be it llama sweaters, silver earrings, or paintings. 'The only problem with being here is that we can't really expand,' she says. 'We have the creative minds and the ideas for design, but there is the issue of managing the business.’ The shop is rather small for the amount of amazing products hidden within, as I walk around I see the most odd mixture of things. In one corner sits a Cholita hat, fashioned to be a little smaller and a touch more modern. As I walk past it, a tourist excitedly bounds over to try it on. In the secluded back section, there lies artisan soaps, the most gorgeous collection of Bolivian-made jewellery and a wealth of books about Bolivia’s rich history and culture.
It isn’t only the shop itself that represents the idea of mixture. The logo that Campero and her associates eventually chose also expresses the store's vision. ‘We had a series of old, precious Bolivian photos,’ Campero says. ‘There was a special one of a boy from the country and a boy from the city standing side by side. The details of the two represent Bolivia perfectly. It's the idea that Bolivia has this air of diversity, the mix of cultures behind it, which is why we decided to use it as our logo.’ The full logo isn't often used, but it is an apt portrayal of the store's identity.
After more than three years of pouring her heart and soul into this concept store, it’s only fair for one to be curious about Luisa’s favourite selling point. ‘I think my favourite product would be the t-shirts we have by all the designers,’ she says. ’They are really creative. There's one with the Valle de La Luna that I really love, and another with the cholitas walking along the road. These designs are just incredible; the garments are made of Alpaca wool, and the sweaters we have in the store are wonderful. It's not just their designs that are great, but the quality is also super.’
Campero’s vision for the store has most certainly come to fruition. Although her mantra is ‘keep changing and moving forward’, what doesn’t seem to change is her desire to help the people of Bolivia through the sales in her store. ‘One of the things I've loved most about this shop is promoting the local talent, and we're always discovering something new to work with,’ she says. With exclusively Bolivian designer products adorning the shelves, that is exactly what she has achieved.
Mistura can be found on Calle Sagarnaga, no.123, La Paz.