Alicia San Marcos was founded on the promise of providing access to education for children in Guatemala, a country where over 50% of people live in poverty. For underserved families in Guatemala, two of the greatest barriers to education are paying for school supplies and uniforms. Each Alicia San Marcos purchase goes directly toward funding these needs.
Growing up we had a close family friend, Alicia Angel, who was from San Marcos, Guatemala and was like a second mother to us.
Alicia was a strong, intelligent woman who discontinued her education at a young age because of her family's inability to pay for school. She wanted to give her children what she could not have, an education, so she made the incredibly dangerous journey through Mexico to the United States. With the money she earned in the States, she kept her kids in school through university and broke her family's cycle of poverty.
After 25 years of working abroad, she became terminally ill and returned home to Guatemala to spend her final days with her family who she had not seen since she left. While we were fortunate to have such an incredible person become an integral part of our lives, we also wish she was able to spend more time with her biological family.
This eye opening experience motivated us to create a company that supplies underserved Guatemalan children with much needed educational materials so parents do not have to travel abroad to maintain their child’s education.
Our company is committed to the values Alicia instilled upon us:
- Importance of education and its ability to break the cycle of poverty
- Dedication to serving those in need
- Enrichment of Guatemala by creating opportunities for its people to succeed
Alicia was kind, generous, and selfless. We would not be who we are today without her endless love, care, and support. It is our mission to carry out Alicia’s values and make her proud by generating opportunities for the country she loved.
Nicole Bakva, Co-Founder & Creative Director
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nicole was always fascinated by the multitude of cultures igniting her desire to learn more firsthand through travel. While spending a semester abroad volunteering at a pre-school in Thailand, she realized how a small investment of her time could drastically improve the lives of many children living in poverty and prepare them for a brighter future.
After finishing her Bachelor’s at University of California, Davis, she worked in advertising and continued traveling to countries off the beaten path. The more she traveled, the more she was exposed to the hardships faced by those in developing countries. She also saw beautifully handcrafted work produced by artisans living in poverty, and wished she could bridge the gap between first and third world markets.
While obtaining her Master’s in Business at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, Nicole learned of Alicia’s diagnosis and traveled to Guatemala. After hearing stories from Alicia about the colors, the culture, and the people of Guatemala her entire life, Nicole visited for the first time and felt instantly connected. When the trip ended, it was incredibly painful to say goodbye for the last time. Even more devastating was that Alicia never had the opportunity to watch her biological children, who she was now spending her final days with, grow up. This resonated deeply with Nicole.
Throughout the remainder of her Master’s program, Nicole recruited with many companies and told them all of her ultimate goal to significantly and positively impact the lives of as many people as possible. In her final semester, she took an entrepreneurship class, which became the pivotal moment when her prior experiences and ambitions converged and she realized what she was meant to do.
Nicole and Michelle wanted to prevent others from the difficult situation Alicia and her family faced by supporting education for Guatemalan children, and they wanted to raise the money sustainably by selling handcrafted products. Immediately after graduation, Nicole spent a month in Guatemala forging relationships with artisans and volunteering at a Niños de Guatemala Pre-K class. She wanted to understand the problems in the education system in order to address them optimally.
After months of research and development, Alicia San Marcos was born in commemoration of Alicia Angel. Every day, Nicole strives to make Alicia proud by helping others through the adversity Alicia faced.