The Hispanic mom taking traditional Mexican art designs global on TikTok
Cassie Sorensen’s Tassel Amor sells a wide variety of products created using the traditional art form, and has amassed an army of followers.
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TikTok has been around since September 2017, but the platform saw a steady increase in popularity at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many Americans were going about their daily routines at home, and many were seeking alternative forms of entertainment and social connection.
However, not all TikTok users were in it for the endless scrolling to kill time, the viral dances or cooking tutorials. Many people began using the app as a way to give their small business more exposure, and hopefully increase their customer base and sales.
One Latina entrepreneur, Cassie Sorensen, struck gold by utilizing the app’s viral sounds and trends to showcase her vibrant Mexican-inspired products.
Sorensen’s journey towards owning her own small business didn't start until she lived in Yucatán, Mexico for three years with her husband and children. She was a dedicated stay-at-home mom for over 20 years, which she regards as both a privilege and a choice.
“We were afforded that opportunity thanks to the support of my husband. So it’s not something that ever occurred to me to run a business or be some sort of entrepreneur,” Sorensen told AL DÍA.
During her years in Yucatán, Sorensen fell in love with everything there. She is Latina, with Mexican heritage and was born and raised in South Texas. But during her time in “the homeland,” her family immersed themselves in the language and the culture.
Sorensen immersed herself so much into the local culture and business scene, that she even started to take classes and pick up the craft of loom weaving.
“I learned a little bit about fiber and textile arts, and of course, I had been shopping at the artisan markets and buying stuff for myself. I just loved all of the colors that were represented in the pieces. And I think once I took those classes and learned more about it was kind of when I wondered if maybe I could do something with it,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen then connected with a number of women artisans and now works with them in a fair trade cooperative partnership. While the majority of the designs are from the artisans, Sorensen does design some original pieces for her shop.
Her small business, Tassel Amor, sells beautifully colored tassels, handbags, and earrings.
Loom weaving is a very time consuming and intricate craft, and Sorensen explained that the techniques are passed down from generation to generation.
“For me, I just love supporting their work and supporting them [the artisans] especially because last year, we all know things were tough on everyone, and a lot of their buyers were not purchasing from them. Boutiques were closing down and they had buyers worldwide that sourced from them,” Sorensen said.
“Because not as many people were shopping, the orders kind of diminished as well. So it was just perfect timing that things took off on TikTok, because I was able to place even larger orders from them; more and more quantities,” she added.
Sorensen’s customer base is pretty diverse, going beyond people of Mexican or Latinx descent. Before upgrading to a bigger studio space, Sorenson used to work on orders on the dining room table, and her daughter once asked her if all her customers were Mexican.
She was taken aback by her daughter’s question, and explained to her that her customers, “at least based on the last names,” are not all Mexican, and come from many different backgrounds. Sorensen then made a TikTok about this conversation, which went viral, amassing 2 million views.
“That’s pretty cool that people all over the world love this beautiful art,” her daughter said.
Sorensen theorizes one product in particular that is very popular among a wide variety of people is the evil eye design, which has roots in Greek, Roman, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions.
Sorensen took a shot with TikTok because she kept hearing that small business owners need to take advantage of the platform.
“I decided to go for it because it was really hard to grow on Instagram in early 2020. Reels were not around, and growth was very slow. For me, I just came to a point where I was like ‘why not? What have I got to lose?’ I started to find small businesses there, and I just kind of fell in love with the community there,” Sorensen said.
People were very giving of tips and tricks, and Sorensen quickly learned that the community is extremely supportive, so she kept at it. She started making videos in March 2020, and within a few months, sales began steadily increasing. Fast forward to February 2021, and her sales were booming.
But with persistence and creativity, Sorensen was able to sell out her online store in a matter of minutes after restocking. Customers would comment on her videos saying ‘I just ordered this,’ which truly warmed Sorensen’s heart.
Sorensen’s three viral videos consisted of the conversation with her daughter, an inspirational quote, and her story about living in Mexico.
When asked to give advice to aspiring small business owners, Sorensen suggested that they just “go for it,” and use what they have, start where they are, and know that there is room for them, and that extraordinary things take time.