In these pics from 2018, you can see us, Gabriela, Catalina, and Martín (in Catalina’s belly). We are the founders of By Maria. Gaby is from Ecuador – Salinas beautiful beach town, and she moved to Switzerland 16 years ago to make all her principal studies. Me, Catalina, I’m from Colombia – Bogotá a huge capital city. With 10 million inhabitants approx. located at 2600 mt over sea level and without seasons, I just love it. I moved to Switzerland in 2014 to make a master study, where By Maria was borns.
Dreams always start somewhere. This started with me, Catalina’s experience, but not just professional also I would say the 90%, personal.
Some about these personal facts
My mother, Libia, is a lawyer and social sciences teacher, she is my right hand and pillar in every single step I do. My father, Jorge, was a linguist by profession, who passed away in 2011. He was a principled man who taught me how to live a responsible and humble life. Both lovers of literature, both always were up-to-date on the latest social and political issues, analytical and critical thinkers. And finally, my brother Jorge, who left us early to became my angel and my guide.
In 2006 after my studies in Industrial Design, I initiated a startup in Bogota with my good friend Carlos Bautista, called BEO. It was when we understood the industry, the gaps within the system and how this monopolized industry needs a lot more than one person and one action in order to be changed. On 2011 BEO closed.
After BEO and despite personal and professional challenges, I quickly turned the page and pursued new studies in Product Design at the National University, developing the project named, “Removable High Heels for Women for Multiple Role in their Daily Lives”. Always shoes!
In 2013, I met my husband Philipp Jossen which resulted in me moving to Switzerland and pursue a master’s degree in Service Design at the Luzern University of Applied Science and Arts (HSLU).
During my studies, inspiring words from Voltaire were my guide, “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do”. These are the words that make me think about my people every day and my responsibilities as a citizen of Colombia and the world. Back then these words led my thinkings when I was setting up my master project.
The thesis topic I eventually chose was, the “Shoe Industry”, what a coincidence!. I explored the Europe industry and analyze its supply chain to compare it with my practical experience in Colombia. The result: we face the same problems; monopolies, inequality, and unlivable low wages. After exploring supply chains and identifying commonalities along with the main stakeholders, finally, I designed a set of Services.
This combination of services is the system called By Maria, which delivers services before shoes. We are the game changers in this industry. Why is that? Because we share the money we get and we work without stock, which makes our product cheaper.
- Our designers get 10% of the final price
- We empower our shoemakers to show their art and improve their lives. They get 10% of the final price.
- Finally, another 10% is going to our foundation to be sure education, technology, and suitable infrastructures are provided to the shoemakers associated.
- By Maria is currently conducting important research to achieve zero returns because of the online wrong size purchases.
In 2016 “By Maria” was awarded the prestigious “Revolution Prize” as the best thesis of Luzern University.
On December 12th, 2016, I applied to the BRIDGE proof of concept an SNF program. I was supported by the HSLU and the Competence Center Design and Management. The first call received 102 applicants and 11 projects were funded. By Maria was one of them.
This was the moment when I shared with Gaby this big dream and invited her to be part. Gaby is my friend since I arrived in Switzerland, many fun stories there to tell. Her role, to helping me to measure impact and develop all regarding finances and sustainability. At that moment 2017, she was in Mongolia working for Caritas supporting the social impact measurement of a project. This collaboration was skype based and it was like to find my better half (after my husband ;)) and she became a co-founder in 2018, According to her own words, she liked By Maria since “it represents balance and stability both social and environmental. It’s a system where you find transparency, sympathy, where all win.”
At the moment Gaby works day after day with our shoemakers and providers in Colombia. She also developing all finance strategies. Since Gaby arrives at our team our shoes achieved the Swiss quality we were looking for and she has improved many other aspects of this system.
With BRIDGE grant in 2017 and part of 2018, we proved key elements of the concept, and the main team was developed.
In 2019 a new member joins By Maria as Cofounder. Magnus Wolf also dreams big and believe the change can be possible. As a software architect, he is our head in all regarding technology.
By Maria became a GMBH in may 2019 and we invite you all to be part of our system as client, designer or shoemaker, together we can change the things that are hurting many around the world.
We just need compassion, empathy, and actions. We open here a door to transform these intentions into doing good with real actions.