Sandra Artalejo

Sandra Artalejo grew up in El Paso, Texas living a very creative childhood.   Her mother sewed and made things out of used newspapers, used soda cans and recycled clothes into quilts.  Part artistry, part necessity, she was taught by her parents and grandparents not to waste anything. It was her early recycling education.

Sandra attended the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio. There she met her most influential mentor, Sister Mary Elizabeth Joyce, head of the Fashion Department. She pushed her students to do the best and most creative works we could.  As a struggling student, she creatively searched for fabrics and supplies at affordable prices.  One favorite project was sewing over 300 "bad cut" keys from a hardware store onto a jacket.  Creative recycling!

In Dallas, Sandra worked for several fashion companies and ran her own studio out of her home. She developed clothing and accessory lines with found materials.  She started using used records and record covers, used candy and chip bags and used billboards. She had several dogs and noticed the large bags were made out of very strong material; she created a set of totes and handbags from those and they were so cool!   She developed several pieces and approached recycle programs in Dallas, Plano and surrounding areas.   It was a great success!

Sandra’s childhood-to-higher education-to innovation story was captured in a chapter in the 4-time award-winning book Latinnovating by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato. In addition, Latino Leaders Magazine featured Sandra’s story of creative recycling in a multi-page spread.  Sandra is now taking a new approach to teaching kids about recycling.  She’s written a series of bilingual children’s books starring "Chulita," a super creative and funny little Latina growing up in the USA who cares about her family, animals, teaching recycling to her friends and helping planet Earth.  The books are based on several stories she wrote to read to her daughter when she was young (who’s now starting her second year in college); Sandra decided to develop them into a book series.

Sandra is launching the first book in the series at the Americas Latino Eco Festival! It’s titled Chulita and the Very Hot Pickle - a fun story about mistaken food identity. It includes a phonetic pronunciation guide in BOTH languages in the back of the book. Future books will also be published in English and Spanish and address subjects such as not using plastic bags (with tips on making reusable grocery bags) and recycling old jeans into designer jeans!

Watch the video Sandra recorded for her successful Indiegogo campaign to meet the book characters here. Connect with Sandra and follow the adventures of Chulita and friends by liking the Chulita and Friends page on Facebook.  Twitter users can follow @Chulita_Stories.

The website www.Chulita.com will go live during the Americas Latino Eco Festival. Visit there to find webisodes, news of future books, Chulita and friends products and more.