Meet Lauren Bogan, Founder of Momento Goods - a collection of intentional lifestyle goods from Mexico and Guatemala, inspired by travel and made by hand. Based out of Richmond, Virginia (just one hour south of Phosphene), Lauren and I first connected pre-pandemic to chat about the opportunity to collaborate together and bring Momento Goods to the shop for a Pop Up Event. Mutual brand values aside, Lauren and I connected as business owners and women with mutual interests - you know those new friends you know you could chat with for hours about everything from music and art to the silly mundane routine tasks in life, then immediately switch back to a conversation about the depth of human experience and connection? This was one of those calls, and when we got off the phone I was energized to have connected with Lauren.
Now, two or so years later, we're thrilled to finally host Lauren and Momento Goods for an event. Join us for First Friday's on October 6th from 5-8PM and for a weekend long pop up Saturday and Sunday from 10AM - 5PM with Lauren of Momento Goods.
In the meantime, read on to get to know a bit more about Lauren, as she shares what's been inspiring her lately, the origins of Momento Goods and what she's passionate about, and advice she'd give her past self. I know you'll love her and what she's built as much as I do, and hope you enjoy.
What does this season of life look like for you?
I’m a public elementary school ESL teacher, so my days are pretty busy. Usually, I’m up by 5:00, immediately make coffee, then I try to do a workout or go to yoga before school, but to be real, most days it doesn’t happen. During the day, I help kids who speak different languages learn and practice English. It’s honestly the best. Some of the languages my students speak include Pashto, Dari, Vietnamese, Nepali, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese. When I get home, it’s time to walk my sweet pup Roka, make/eat dinner, catch up on housework, and then I’ll either work on any creative projects I have going on, or watch a show before my 9:00 bedtime. I love an early bedtime and sometimes it’s actually more like 8:30.
What in your days remains a constant no matter where you are?
Coffee! I’ve gone through phases where I’ve tried to give it up, and every time I go back I’m like, “I’ll never give you up again.” Gotta live a little.
What’s something you’ve been learning lately?
I’ve been working through an ilovecreatives copywriting course, and it’s been super fun. I enjoy writing and connecting with others, so it’s been cool to refine my writing practice, meet new people, and start building my copywriting portfolio. I’m also forever learning and practicing Spanish, so I take a virtual Spanish class every Friday afternoon with my teacher in Oaxaca. It’s a nice way to kick off the weekend.
Could you share with us any specific works of art, literature, music, etc that have been inspiring to you recently?
Ah! So many things! I just started working through the book The Artist’s Way after I kept hearing about it everywhere, and so far it’s been pretty expansive and thought-provoking.
I crave traveling, and honestly need it for my mental health - this summer I went to Spain (Barcelona, Puigcerdá, and Begur) for the first time and it was a dream. Every time I travel, I bring a little piece of inspiration back with me, and it inevitably shapes my life in some way. Since returning from Spain, I’ve literally been putting olive oil on everything - I can’t get enough! Whenever I’m feeling really in a rut and uninspired, I know it’s time to take a trip somewhere.
Tell us a little about your work with Momento Goods? Its origins, why you are passionate about what you are building.
Taking it all the way back - right after I graduated college with my elementary ed. degree, I went to Guadalajara to teach English. I chose Guadalajara because there was an English teaching program there that guaranteed job placement after completion, and it was the only flight I could afford. I honestly had no idea that Guadalajara was in Mexico. I had never traveled or knew anyone who traveled, but I had a real desire to go somewhere (anywhere) and the teaching skills to work abroad, so I just went for it. That first trip to Guadalajara and then right after to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, where I got a job teaching English, not only changed me, but changed the entire trajectory of my life.
Once I returned, I immediately went to grad school with the goal of teaching English here in the U.S., continued to travel as much as possible, and then later taught in Vietnam and Myanmar. Throughout that time, I discovered my love for markets, and crafts, and seeing the process of things being made by hand, and meeting new people from diverse backgrounds, and learning about other cultures, and so the idea to start my own thing and source handmade goods began forming.
After being intimidated by the idea for years, one day I decided to just go for it (much like my decision to fly to Mexico with no clear plan) and created Momento Goods - by making an official instagram page. I then googled lots of things, randomly went to a small business workshop hosted by the local chamber of commerce, took some trips to Guatemala and Mexico, got a website up and running, and worked with a lot of cool people to create and launch a first collection of goods - and here we are.
Now, I work with a small group of artisans, cooperatives, entrepreneurs, and sourcing partners to design and curate a collection of handmade lifestyle goods from Mexico and Guatemala that, to put it simply, I love and that I think others will love. And while I’m definitely still figuring things out as I go, doing things slowly and responsibly is very important to me. This includes who I partner with, how I travel, packaging, pricing, transparency, etc. Momento is, and will always be, a passion project fueled by my sincere desire to connect with others around the world, live a little adventurously, and work on something I love. And no matter how it may change or evolve, my commitment to doing all things with kindness, honesty, and integrity will forever be my guide.
Can you describe your workspace? Where is it and what is in it? How has your workspace evolved alongside your business?
Momento Goods operates completely from a spare bedroom in my house. Everything from storing goods, to packing up orders, to printing mailing labels happens there. Well, except for website and computer stuff, that happens sitting at my kitchen table, or in this case, on my couch. And sometimes my workspace is at school during my lunchtime.
What are some of your favorite objects in your home?
I have this table in my kitchen with lots of little knick-knacks and keepsakes, and it looks like a lot of random things, but it’s mostly little sweet things I’ve collected from traveling. Like there’s a rice bowl and polaroid photo from Tokyo, a postcard that came with some prints we got from an illustrator we met in Tokyo, ceramics from Mexico, two alebrijes from Oaxaca, a Ganesha statue from Bali given to my boyfriend by his brother, and seashells from Duck, NC - anything that can remind me of a travel memory is something I cherish.
How would you choose to spend alone time if/when you get it?
I love spending time alone. I’ve learned that even though I love connecting with others, I’m much more introverted than I thought and require a lot of alone time to feel recharged. I am an early bird, so I love to wake up early and slowly drink my coffee while it’s quiet. A day with no planned activities where I can nap, or go to yoga, or go to the farmer’s market, or catch up on my shows (love some Real Housewives), or work on something creative, depending on my energy level and mood is ideal.
What are you passionate about?
Advocating for the rights of immigrants and refugees in the United States. Working with students and families from a wide variety of backgrounds and seeing firsthand the obstacles to employment, obstacles to basic healthcare, educational inequities, lack of affordable childcare, lack of resources in languages other than English, (and the list goes on) is infuriating. Immigrants and refugees have sacrificed more than most people can understand and contribute so much to our country - they deserve, at the very least, access to basic necessities, equal opportunities, and to be treated with respect as human beings.
Advice you would give your past self:
Learn how money works, for real. Like how to build credit, how to budget, how to save etc. It is crazy to me that I was never taught any of this stuff. Trying to learn about it all in your 30s feels like you’re already behind, and like you’re trying to learn another language, but it’s a secret language that either only some people know, or maybe everyone knows?
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the evolution of Momento. I think the next phase of Momento will be moving towards something more expansive that allows me to do all of the things I love - traveling, sourcing handmade goods, working with other creatives, building authentic relationships, writing, collaborating, etc. What I’ve realized while working on Momento is that keeping things small, sticking to your values, treating everyone with respect and kindness, and focusing on the things you love doing will create something pretty cool, and you can figure out the details as you go.
above: "A note from January, 2019. I was just going through old notes in my phone and I never realized how much I stop to write something in the moment. A previously unconscious practice that I’m going to consciously commit to moving forward. It’s cool to be reminded of a memory, see how your thoughts have evolved, or in this case, recognize what you wanted back then is what you still want now. ✨" from Lauren's Momento Goods Instsagram page.