If you take beach walks in Sayulita, you might encounter dogs wearing strikingly colorful beaded collars as they run, wrestle, and swim in the ocean. You might also see people around town wearing similarly styled beaded bracelets, and designers working on the streets creating these pieces. These works of art are hand crafted by members of the native Huichol tribe. One Sayulita couple recently launched an online store called Boho Mango to help support local Huichol artisans by marketing these beautiful collars and bracelets to the world.
How They Got Here:
In 2006, Jill & Ron Tomich were blown south by a powerful gust of road fever they couldn’t deny. In short order, they craigslist-ed their furniture, sold their Colorado house, moved their dog and laptops into a small RV, and aimed for Mexico, as friends and family waved confused, nervous goodbyes. They left with a loose notion that if they could somewhere locate warm waves, cheap papayas, fresh fish, and a steady drip of WiFi robust enough to do their online work, all in nearby proximity, well, that might be worth parking for.
As they hopped and skipped down the Pacific Coast sampling various beach locales, they enjoyed plenty of poetic fish tacos, slabs of banana bread, and ripe papayas beyond their dreams, but rarely more than a fleeting scent of dependable WiFi. Despite deploying tequila to encourage hope, the fantasy of working remotely from a Mexican beach began to seem an exercise in digital anxiety. Clients were increasingly unimpressed by the sound of dropped connections, while family lobbed media fed travel warnings over the phone and lobbied for a swift retreat North.
Then, on New Years Eve, they bounced wearily into the Sayulita Trailer Park. On the other side of a beach spinning and sparkling with rowdy New Year revelers, they gazed at a rich bounty of waves within a rock throw, and the park offered just enough WiFi to tease desperate hopes. Sensing possible salvation, at least for a night or two, they backed in to the only available spot; not an official space really, as it was New Years after all. Sayulita was humming and thumping, and the park was full to the brim, but the owner, Thies, took pity and pointed to a patch of dirt back behind the garage near a lumber pile. They gratefully parked, rolled out the awning and commenced logging in.
13 years later, the trailer park WiFi still sometimes behaves like a beautifully wayward mistress, but it now mostly gives as it should, as do the waves out front, and their love for Sayulita grows as well. To pay the rent and buy papayas, they build stuff online. Ron imagines & designs, while Jill manages and muscles projects to life. Over the years, during periods of Sayulita WiFi joy, they’ve launched a handful of online publishing platforms, including the Sayulita Pack App in 2018. Then, in June of this year 2019, they launched their Boho Mango store, which promotes and sells dog collars and bracelets created by a local Huichol tribe.
Why Boho Mango?
During their years in Mexico, Jill and Ron grew to love Huichol art. The Huichol people are an indigenous tribe who dwell mainly in the Sierra Madre mountains across the states of Nayarit and Jalisco. They are famous for creating colorfully complex yarn and seed/ bead art that incorporates traditional symbols and designs dating back many centuries.
Jill & Ron both wear seed bead bracelets crafted by their friend Andrés Taizan Lemus, a Huichol artisan and shamen who travels to Sayulita weekly to sell the bead art created by his community of artisans. Popular among many Sayulita locals, Andres is often seen helping beach tourists imagine a custom collar or bracelet design, which he’ll then text back to his mountain artisans to create.
During this year’s Semana Santa, Jill & Ron journeyed to the town of Patzcuaro in Michoacan. There, they got together with their new best friend, Mango the Dog, who they met, fell in love with, and quickly adopted, all while eating a street breakfast of eggs and salsa. Upon returning to Sayulita, they asked Andres to create a personalized collar for Mango that matched Jill's bead bracelet. The coordinated style Jill & Mango presented on beach walks began to earn envious comments from tourists wanting the same look.
A few Huichol artists have gained global recognition for their original creations, but many more have struggled trying to adapt their traditional way of life to the modern economy. Feeling another project coming on, Ron & Jill decided to talk with Andres about working with him and his community to promote their creations online. He was as grateful at the chance to bring new opportunity to his artisan community as Ron & Jill were to help promote the rich beauty of Huichol art.
Thus, bohomango.com was born, with the theme of, “Style With Your Best Friend”. Now, you and your best friend can look great together, and support native artisans too. The store offers dog collars, personalization options, matching bracelets, combo packs, and features the beautiful photography of Janalyn Rose, a local Sayulita photographer who does gorgeous work with her models posing lovingly with their best furry friends.
Support Native Artisans and Animal Protectors:
Besides introducing the vibrant, colorful Huichol style to dogs and their best friends everywhere, Boho Mango’s long term mission is to support Andres, the Huichol artisan community, and animal protection organizations. With the help of Andres and his team of artisans, they hope to grow this newly sprouting business to a point where they can make meaningful donations to nonprofit organizations who are dedicated to stemming the flow of homeless animals, starting with the local nonprofit SayulitAnimals.
Together with their beloved dog Mango, Jill & Ron are busy this summer traveling the US in their RV promoting Boho Mango collars and bracelets at dog parks and independent shops, from California to Colorado, Nebraska to New York, down to Florida and across the south. Mango has been seen modeling different Huichol-created collars daily, wowing the dog parks in Iowa and Brooklyn, while giving chase to squirrels, bunnies, and prairie dogs. After months on the road, they all long for their return to Sayulita in October, hopefully with a full plate of orders for collars and bracelets to keep Andres and his team busy for months.
Are you looking for a fantastic Christmas gift? How about a custom Day of the Dead collar? Want to support native artisans? If you are in Sayulita, look for Andres walking the sand with his board of bracelets and collars. Otherwise, if you are not in the Sayulita area, then go to BohoMango.com to support our local native Huichol people, and to keep their customs and traditional art alive.
*Submitted by Jill & Ron Tomich
*Edited by Aanya Sheikh-Taheri
*Photos by Ann Lanceley & Janalyn Rose