Kiko Waters believes that style and positive social impact are not mutually exclusive. After nearly 20 years of working in the corporate world as a fashion and lifestyle designer, Waters opened The Cura Co. in 2019 to address the social and environmental exploitations found within the manufacturing and distribution industry.
"Cura was founded to be a vehicle to live in alignment with our values and passions," the founder and CEO states on her website. "A way to cherish design, art, style, spirituality, wellness and a means of dismantling the systemic exploitation, patriarchy and colonialism embedded in the creation and marketing of consumer goods."
Cura is a verb with Latin roots that means to help, cure or curate. Waters' mission is to design and curate products of artistry and integrity in a way that is both ethical and mindful. From fashion, beauty and home décor, she offers products that are "female-forward" vehicles for positive and collective social change. The space is also used to offer workshops, events and community gatherings.
"I had a long career in the corporate world working as a designer," said Waters. "In 2018, I went on a trip to Mexico and was moved by the beautiful handwork and artisanal crafts I came across. I became inspired to collaborate with the artisans I met. It quickly went from an idea to reality when six weeks later, I moved my family to Mexico."
Waters began researching how artisan development markets functioned within a culturally diverse country like Mexico with its rich history of craft and artistry.
"I was consistently blown away by the beautiful things I found there," she said. "I kept meeting people who were producing incredible work. It was like the stars just aligned perfectly."
After four months of living in Mexico, Waters returned to the Seattle area with a deeper understanding of how the corporate world misaligned with her values regarding consumer goods and the exploitation of people and planet. She also had a strong respect for learning the origin stories of the things we surround ourselves with.
"I realized it was time to do things differently, and fortunately, I knew how to do that," she said. "I wanted to use my knowledge to contribute to a more equitable world. In this field, 90% of the artisans are women, and in general, women are grossly underpaid. We know that when women have money, they invest in their communities and families. I believe that ethics and sustainability are intertwined, and if women lead the way, we will create an equitable society more quickly."
Waters opened The Cura Co. in March of 2019, then, unfortunately, was forced to temporarily close a year later because of the pandemic. She reopened the shop in June with reduced hours and e-commerce. However, she has plans to fully reopen in 2021 when it is safe to do so. The Cura Co. is currently open Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
"We envision a world where mass production and the exploitation of people and planet is a thing of the past; where ethical practices, environmental sustainability and collaborative kindness are the most basic norm," Waters states on her website.
Waters is committed to always putting people and the planet first. She perpetuates the human story behind each product and artist she collaborates with. Whether it's a female-founded business or an organization that trains refugee women artisans, or an up-cycled clothing brand, the importance of the human and environmental impacts of a business are always at the forefront of her overall vision.
"As a woman in this world who is constantly learning and growing, I'm all about promoting the lifestyle I believe in," Waters said. "The Cura has hosted gallery openings focusing on women artists, as well as meditation workshops and gatherings for women in business. I believe there is a level of consciousness and interest in design, art and personal growth. To have one destination where you can access it all is what motivates me to ensure we're much more than just a retail store."
The Cura Co. is located at 2407 E Union St. in Seattle. Orders can also be placed online.