Finding A Place to Call Home
Alison Wu shares her inspiring journey from the mountains of Oregon to the colorful streets of Mexico City
Take a creative mind, a deep passion for travel and food, a background in wellness, and a keen interest in artisanal crafts and product development, and you’ll get the most comprehensive, well-rounded holistic brand you can find: Wu Haus.
When Alison Wu started her blog and Instagram page in 2016 while working as a freelance photo stylist, she never imagined that it would become a personal brand spanning geographies and industries. Today, Wu Haus has a dedicated online following of thousands and is constantly working on new projects and collaborations.
When we read Alison’s beautifully curated guide to Mexico City, our interest was piqued for all things Mexico, and we wanted to know more about her current ventures in her new country of residence. Currently, Alison lives in Mexico City in a historic building designed by renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragan in 1939 that she’s used as a space to explore her aesthetic vision.
“The space itself is the biggest inspiration. I’ve done all of the interior design and I had some pieces of furniture custom made. I would describe my style as warm and sophisticated with playful elements woven in. I like to use a variety of materials and play with texture. I like the juxtaposition of soft woven fabrics and rounded lines with things like hard stone and clay. I am inspired by the female form and would describe my style as feminine.”
Living in Mexico City, Alison’s creativity and connections have continued to blossom. For spring, Alison created a handmade leather sandal for Wu Haus. The design comes in natural, vegetable-tanned leather and baby blue suede.
“The sandals are handmade in a small workshop in Leon, Mexico. I worked with a woman there to bring my design idea to life. I went to Leon to work with her and the artisans in the workshop. We selected samples of the materials and worked to create a prototype together. It was a really fun process.”
Alison’s love story with Mexico began in 2017 when she started to come down to visit one of her best friends, Hannah, who lives in Oaxaca. During her first visit to Mexico City in 2019, she completely fell in love with the city’s energy, design, culture and food. She visited three more times the same year and, following some big life changes in Portland where she’d been living for almost 15 years, in early 2020 she decided to take some time off, rent a space in Mexico City, practice Spanish and work on her next move.
She coincidentally arrived in Mexico City the same week the world went into lockdown in March 202. After a brief 6-week period in Mexico City, she was lucky enough to rent a friend’s place in San Miguel de Allende, giving her more space and connection to nature, as so much was unknown in those beginning months of Covid. After 4 months in SMA, Alison made the decision to move to Mexico permanently. She went back to Portland, sold 90% of her belongings, moved out of the home she owned for 6 years and drove back to Mexico with her dog, Tilly. She arrived in Mexico City in November of 2020 and signed a lease on her current apartment.
With the world starting to open up again, Alison and her friend Hannah realized the potential of a curated Oaxaca trip they’d been planning to offer before Covid. The concept of the trip marries Hannah’s insider knowledge of Oaxaca and her connections to local artisans and businesses with Alison’s events and hosting experience to bring her Wu Haus community offline in a highly curated, one-of-a-kind boutique trip around Oaxaca this spring.
“We created a really well balanced itinerary. We’re doing artisan visits to some communities outside of Oaxaca City, a Mezcal tour and tasting, a sunset dinner in the agave fields, traditional Oaxacan cooking class, a Temazcal and sound healing ceremony. It’s a well varied itinerary to give people a full experience of Oaxaca. We’re acting as curators of the experience and working with local people to lead the workshops and activities.”
Alison’s experience in events dates back to when, after her yoga teacher training in Brazil, she worked for a wellness center in Portland organizing retreats and events. Through the years, moving between copywriting, styling, and launching Wu Haus, Alison dipped her toes into travel and wellness, and her experience culminated in a week-long wellness retreat in Todos Santos that allowed her to cement her travel perspectives and build her network of potential guests.
“It’s an honor for us to be allowed into these spaces, where you can literally see history unfolding in front of you in the spinning of a loom or the pounding of a hammer. That’s why I was so attracted to The Nopo in the first place, because the online customer experience closely reflects the feeling of browsing a real-life marketplace, finding out about each artisan, where they are based, and how they work.”
As someone who values the process of organic inspiration and intentional production, The Nopo continues to be a design resource for Alison.
“There’re so many talented people here in Mexico and so many different crafts that are made by hand which are not always easily accessible. With so many logistics involved for import and shipping to the US, [The Nopo] is offering that easily for artisans in Mexico. I like that the artisans are highlighted and their stories are being told.”
Now on the horizon for Alison is the launch of her creative studio where she’ll provide creative services–from creative direction to social strategy to product launches and event production for new and established brands.
“I’m really excited to take the culmination of my experience over the last seven years as an entrepreneur and creative director of my own brand and bring it to other brands and work with teams of people.”
Head over to Alison’s curated collection of her Nopo favorites, and get some inspiration for your next adventure.