Meet The Disruptors: How Antonio Nuño of ‘Someone Somewhere’ Is Shaking Up The Artisan Industry

Jason Hartman
Sep 11 · 7 min read
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When we learned how many people are part of the artisan industry, we were shocked. 1 out of every 25 people in the world is a struggling artisan!
We created Someone Somewhere as a vehicle to raise millions of artisans out of poverty, by combining their traditional handcrafts with contemporary materials, designs and technologies. Since the pandemic hit, we have generated more than 50,000 hours for artisans living in extreme poverty.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Antonio Nuño.

Antonio has built his career around social entrepreneurship, working with NGOs and corporations across the globe (eg: McKinsey & Co) before co-founding Someone Somewhere. With Someone Somewhere, he has been able to leverage his passion for social sectors and combine it with his business talents — he deeply believes in the purpose he and his team are fighting for. Antonio has been honored with Forbes 30 Under 30, Pitch@Palace LATAM, Gifted Citizen and many other awards that prove his ambition for social causes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My name is Antonio and I’m a social entrepreneur. I was born in Mexico, a country with incredible places and people, but also with a lot of inequality. Since I was very young I started going on volunteering trips to different rural communities with some of my best friends (including Fátima Álvarez and Enrique Rodríguez, my co-founders). During these trips we met hundreds of local families. Not only were we overwhelmed by their hospitality and their generosity but also by the levels of poverty they were facing. I distinctly remember that I realized I had found my calling after finishing our very first trip. I decided I wanted to dedicate my life connecting these amazing communities with the rest of the world.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

During our trips to the rural communities, we realized that a vast majority of the women population were talented artisans with rare skills using their hands, but they were really struggling to make a living through this work. Their products weren’t matching with what people were wearing, and their sales channels didn’t reach the right markets in the right way. When we learned how many people are part of the artisan industry, we were shocked. 1 out of every 25 people in the world is a struggling artisan!
We created Someone Somewhere as a vehicle to raise millions of artisans out of poverty, by combining their traditional handcrafts with contemporary materials, designs and technologies. Since the pandemic hit, we have generated more than 50,000 hours for artisans living in extreme poverty.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We launched Someone Somewhere through a crowdfunding campaign. We were only expecting orders from Mexico and perhaps a few from the US, but we decided to open the campaign to anyone in the world with a fixed shipping fee of $10 USD. To our surprise, we ended up receiving orders from more than 27 countries, which was extremely exciting until we calculated how much we would have to spend on shipping to places like Finland, Japan and Australia. Almost a third of the money we raised was used to pay for these shipments, but it was a great lesson we will never forget.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Asides from our college professors and our parents, I think our very first business mentor was Jose Ignacio Avalos, the co-founder of one of the largest microfinance institutions in the world. His foundation sponsored the entrepreneurship award we won when we were just starting and has been by our side since then. He was the first important person to believe in us and give us the confidence we needed to leap forward and quit our corporate jobs. After him we have been extremely lucky to meet incredible mentors from all walks of life, and we believe this has been a crucial element for our growth. We are actually working to calculate the amount of hours of work for artisans that each mentorship can create, and we have already got cases where an hour of a mentor’s time translates to 5,000 hours of work for artisans thanks to a key insight.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think that every business should have a mix of disruption and structure, and attract people that excel in at least one of these mindsets. In our case we have a lot of creative team members, but none of their ideas would be possible without the help of our more structured and experienced colleagues. In terms of industries, I believe there will always be a better way of doing things, and that the world is starting to look at companies that are not only the best of the world, but the best for the world (B-Corps slogan). Disruption can happen both in the things we do and in the way we do them, and we believe companies that are thinking on both sides of the spectrum can be rocketships.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

-Surround yourself with people who are better than you and that complement your weaknesses. Our team is the perfect example of this.
-People don’t buy impact, they buy amazing products. We learned this the hard way but all of our latest products are a living proof that we finally figured it out.

-Enjoy the journey. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster which can become very boring or stressful if you are just thinking about the end goal, which may never happen or the end goal might radically change as you grow.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

I think we have tried every play on the book, but our strongest channels right now are:
-Collaborations: working with other brands that have a similar audience as yours and create unique products
-Influencer marketing: if your brand has a story and people like to tell it, this channel could be the right for you
-Performance marketing: it takes some time (and some very smart people) to make it work, but if you nail it can be very scalable
-Physical stores: we didn’t think we would open physical stores, but they have become a key part of our growth strategy in Mexico
-B2B Sales: the latest addition to our mix. We have been producing exclusive products for companies (including their logo) many of which order as corporate christmas gifts. Turns out a lot of corporations are tired of gifts that end up as pajamas.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Our next big milestones include launching and growing our sales in the United States and starting to work with artisans based in Peru. The artisan activity is the second-largest source of employment in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and we believe our model has the potential to take it by storm and really make it work for the artisans as well as the customers.

We are also working in some material innovations that take artisan techniques to a whole new level (Eg: our Magic Loom fabric that is launching in sync with the US launch). We believe this is the path forward for us.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

The book, ‘Why We Sleep’ by Mathew Walker. We spend one third of our lives sleeping, but until very recently we didn’t know what happened in our brains and bodies during the different stages of sleep. This book is a great intro and I would recommend it to every entrepreneur and startup team member.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Ikigai. It’s a concept rather than a quote, but it represents the balance between what you like to do, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can get paid for. I’m lucky to have found my Ikigai and believe that everyone should challenge themselves to find it too — it really changes your life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If 1 out of every 25 products people bought was made by an artisan, more than 300 million people rise out of the poverty line. Very few people know the magnitude of this sector, but we hope we can get it into the spotlight!

How can our readers follow you online?

On our Instagram account: @someonesomewhere or joining our mailing list on someonesomewhere.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Jason Hartman

Written by

Author | Speaker | Financial Guru | Podcast Rockstar

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Jason Hartman

Written by

Author | Speaker | Financial Guru | Podcast Rockstar

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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