The artisan markets around the bay are magnificent, with the crown jewel being La Cruz Sunday market, straddled between the boats in the marina and the grand Bay of Banderas.
Everything in the market seems to be handmade, homemade or homegrown. It’s like visiting art gallery after art gallery, as you check out the various stall holders.
Music makers serenade us at out local markets with everything from flamenco to jazz to good old rock ‘n’ roll. It feels like one big party and I always walk away with a skip in my step and a full tummy. (I favor the locally made sausages, by the way.) Usually, a trinket, a piece of art or locally grown veggies make it home with me. The market season runs from November through May.
I want to share a few stories about some innovative creators at these markets. When you see them, say hi from me!
Chantel Luna was a recent college graduate when she visited Puerto Vallarta in 2003 with a plan to stay for six months. After 20 years she now calls this area home, living on the north side of the bay with her husband and daughter.
Chantel and her team make jewelry out of vintage silverware. “The favorite part of my job is seeing my happy clients come back over and over again to add to their collections,” she says.
You can find Chantel at the Olas Altas Farmers Market every Saturday and the La Cruz Market every Sunday. She also has a beautiful boutique in Old Town Puerto Vallarta where she showcases other local artists, as well as her own stunning jewelry, and shares the space with micro batch artisan chocolatier Xocodiva. Find them at Aquiles Serdán 369 in Puerto Vallarta and check out her website: chantelvintagespoonjewelry.com/our-story.
A graphic designer by trade, Alenka Gomboc is the CEO of Gomboc Goods. She moved to La Cruz two years ago but started her Bahia journey in San Pancho in 2020.
“I was doing remote work for years, even before the pandemic, and was setting up my Gomboc Goods towel business in California when another lockdown started in December 2020,” she told me. “I made a quick plan B and travelled to Mexico. My plan was never to stay, but after a few months I fell in love with everything Mexico has to offer. So I ditched the old plan and made a new one. Mexico, my new home, is where I launched my business.”
Describing herself as a “creative person” since childhood, Alenka says “it’s like higher forces take over” when she is designing. “Sometimes even I’m surprised by what comes out. My specialty is definitely color, bold blocks and shapes. Bold bright colors make me excited about life and I feel it has the same effect on other people, whether they’re aware of it or not. I draw my inspiration from nature but also urban environments, hence the organic geometric combination of my designs.”
Gomboc Goods towels are made of recycled plastic bottles and sustainably is at the core of her business, Alenka says. “I keep looking for improvements on how to be more environmentally friendly and am always on the lookout for new materials and functional products.”
You can find Alenka at the La Cruz Marina market on Sundays and Sayulita Mercado del Pueblo on Fridays, with guest appearances at other markets too. Watch for more exciting stuff to come at gombocgoods.com.
Creating beautiful footwear is only a conduit to what Begoña López Morales truly offers: making a difference everyone she meets is her real magic.
Originally from Mexico City, Begoña was searching for a better quality of life when she moved to Puerto Vallarta 16 years ago. Five years later she relocated to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a place she calls “a beautiful little town full of peace and tranquility.”
Moving forward with her life while living the capital as a 26-year-old single mother wasn’t easy, she admits. Working in an office, Begoña felt she was missing out on the biggest moments with her son. Eventually, she says, “I told myself, enough, this world has something better for us.”
In her new life, Begoña is an accomplished designer and entrepreneur. Her business is making leather sandals and accessories, bracelets, purses, bags and jewelry - all handmade. The sandals are made using cow leather and decorations of knitted string macramé, always employing the best quality materials for durability, water resistance and, most importantly, comfort, so you can walk in them for hours.
“I love to sell my sandals in the markets and see my clients happy faces when they return year after year, not just for themselves but to purchase for their best friends and family,” she says. “One day a young woman told me that she had been walking in New York and saw another woman wearing my sandals. She asked her where she bought them, and the woman gave her my information. When that lady visited Vallarta she found me and bought four pairs of sandals! That’s what I love, knowing that people like and enjoy what I create. In my booth there’s always reason to smile … I make sure to be friendly to everyone so that in addition to buying sandals they have a good time.”
Enjoy the markets around the bay and please support the artisans.