Taiwanese launches start-up, hopes to show beauty of Latin America

The photo collage shows Jamie Huang (right) and a Latin American woman weaving. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Travel can make a big difference in a person’s life, changing his or her ambition and even help to find a passion in life.

Jamie Huang is one of them. The young Taiwanese has a passion for adventurous travel and she hopes that more people will enjoy the art of weaving and discover the energy of Latin Americans.  

“After traveling and living in the region for a short time, I fell in love with Latin America, which is rich in ethnicity and has a strong sense of vitality and tolerance,” Jamie, 27, told The China Post. She is the co-founder of PIÑA COLADA.  

Jamie, the co-founder of PIÑA COLADA, is pictured during her trip to Central America. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)
Urda and Jamie traveled together and they co-founded PIÑA COLADA upon their return to Taiwan. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

PIÑA COLADA features a collection of accessories inspired by Latin American culture and art. It works directly with small producers or small distributors of different countries to bring unique handmade products to Taiwanese people.   

PIÑA COLADA works directly with small producers or small distributors of different countries. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)  

Three years ago, Jamie and Urda from Spain both got tired of their office jobs and resigned. The two of them randomly chose to venture to Latin America, where neither of them had been before.  

At that time, Latin America sounded distant and mysterious in their minds.  

At that time, Latin America sounded distant and mysterious in their minds. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

“Before I visited, I was as worried as most people expressed some concerns, fearing for our safety, for robberies, thefts, shootings, drug abuse, underdevelopment, and more,” she said, adding that she was deeply influenced by the negative media coverage.   

Jamie is pictured with their second-hand motorbike. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

“I was biased to see a country I did not understand at all,” Jamie said.  

In 2016, Jamie and Urda arrived in Mexico; they bought a second-hand motorbike and traveled from Mexico City through Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and then Costa Rica.  

In 2016, Jamie and Urda arrived in Mexico, bought a second-hand motorbike, and started their trip from Mexico City. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

Jamie, who went to the other side of the world for the first time, was curious about everything around her.  

“Central America has an indescribable magic, with ancient colonial architecture and colorful buildings,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave and it’s like I have been enchanted.” 

Jamie and Urda both love surfing and they had a surfing travel in Central and South America. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

After returning to Taiwan from their trip, Jamie and Urda decided to establish their brand, not only to make increase their revenue but also to share their feelings and insights from the trip.  

Urda is pictured with their second-hand motorbike. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)
Latin American Cuisine (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

When it comes to the reasons why they have decided to sell hand knitting accessories, Jamie explained that hand-knitting is indispensable to the local culture and life, and it plays a very important role in every community.  

Latin American Cuisine (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

“It is not only because it has been passed down from generation to generation, but also because the art of weaving embodies a part of the local culture in different groups,” she said.   

She added that they would set up a booth at Taiwan indigenous festival to let more people know about PIÑA COLADA. 

Alpacas were seen along the way.(Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)
Jamie is pictured with alpacas. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

However, they encountered difficulty in the early stage of the business, one of which was the small scale of the partner company.  

Besides, the companies were located in a remote area, which made importing more difficult. 

On the other hand, they had difficulty in communication. Although Urda’s mother tongue is Spanish, it is a bit different from Latin American, so sometimes it takes a little more time to communicate.  

Lake Atitlan (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)
Endless straight road in Central America. (Courtesy of Jamie Huang/黃麗仰)

Speaking of the reason why the brand is named PIÑA COLADA, Jamie said she often ordered this drink when she traveled, and it also represents their love for Latin America.  

They hope that people can feel the passion of Latin Americans through the handmade weaving artworks inspired and made by the local people. 

For more information about , visit PIÑA COLADA website