Diane Pearl Colecciones would not exist without the focus and dedication of Diane Pearl herself. It is a reflection of her gregarious personality, her persistent hands-on involvement, and her single-minded determination to succeed. And succeed it has! The store is continually evolving, expanding and improving. But as with many success stories, it has humble beginnings.
More than a decade ago, while living comfortably in New York City, artist Diane Pearl decided to travel through Mexico on a medical mission with an acquaintance. Upon arriving in Ajijic, all it took was the magic of the banyan trees, the lake with its surrounding mountains, and warmth of the the Mexican people … and she was hooked. “Carmen, the insurance lady, invited me in to sell my jewelry in her new location, and I am still here!” says Diane.
So how did Diane Pearl Colecciones come about? As with most things, out of need. It began with Diane as an artist in her 50s starting a new life in a new country. She did not speak the language, had no prior business experience, no grasp of the culture, and she had … (gulp!) no money. But she got a break!
A very dear friend saw the potential and provided the initial financial boost Diane needed to get started. Much to her investor’s chagrin, right after he made the investment, Diane broke her foot. “I had to scoot around the store first in an office chair, later on crutches, through an obstacle course of 5 easels. I still opened every day though, because I knew the importance of what I had begun,” she states.
In the early days, she did not have the ability or free time to travel around Mexico, but fortunately, the Ajijic and the Lake Chapala northshore area is an artisans’ commercial hub. Many craftsmen and their family members travel from all over Mexico to sell their wares here. One by one, Diane picked up lines from visiting artisans who craft such goods as Puebla talavera, beeswax candles, lacquered and wooden carvings, cornhusk flowers, Catrina figurines, Taxco silver jewelry and much, much more.
Over time, Diane has added 70 individuals to her exclusive pool of talented artists, offering an incredible variety of Mexican arts and crafts, along with a collection of exceptional items crafted by members of our expatriate community.
“I learned, when you see it, buy it, because the chances of ever finding it again are slim, and it might be a year or more until they come back,” Diane explains. “In the beginning all I really knew was to point and ask ‘Cuanto cuesta?’ (how much?).” With the help of Spanish classes, Diane is now able to converse and understand more of the tales her artists tell about their line of goods and its cultural history. “And it is really a pleasure sharing those tales.”
The gallery has been a slow but steady progression. According to Diane, “It has grown because of you, my community, our outstanding artists, and our many visitors. With each purchase I have been able to get more astonishing pieces and attract better artisans.”
The other special part of the formula, according to Diane, is that she has a great team! The “we” she refers to in shop ads and articles, is her entire team of workers, designers and artists. It is always a pleasure to show off our wares, “And,” she notes with her beaming trademark smile, “We gift wrap!”