Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx with Zelaya

Beautiful clothing and an interesting interview, what more could you possibly want from this week’s Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx installment? Maybe warm enough weather to wear the breathtakingly simple & elegant designs from Zelaya?


1. What’s the name of your business, what do you create and sell and how did you get your start?

My business is called Zelaya, after my mother’s family name. My mother was my mentor and instilled in me a passion and curiosity for textiles, the handmade, and the natural. This passion continues to drive me to this day to create a line of socially and environmentally conscious clothing and textile accessories. Items in my line try to express the innate intelligence and beauty of nature, tradition, and simplicity, concepts that shaped my upbringing in the Central American country of El Salvador.


2. When did you get your start and what made you decide to take the plunge?

My start in apparel design has roots in my earliest childhood memories. My mother was a designer and owned a boutique, where I spent endless hours around textiles, pins, and sewing machines. I had always envisioned starting a clothes-making business that encompassed my values and aesthetic. By the summer of 2007 I finessed my concept of sustainable design and business and later that year I opened my Etsy store.

Various factors encouraged and enabled me to take the plunge. I grew disillusioned with a lot of design firms I had worked with in the past, and decided to finally start building towards my clothes-making project. My mother at the time was also seeking to revive her creative genius through handbag design. The combination of our ideas and support for one another created the momentum needed to take the plunge.


3. Who is behind Zelaya?

Zelaya is a family business. I (Barbara Moran) do most of the design, production, management, and accounting. My mother, Dinora, collaborates with me on some of the design and production, and my sister, Violeta, helps with photography and accounting. My husband, Zeno coordinates the imported material sent by my mother from El Salvador. My brother, Jorge, contributes with logistical details, and a network of friends help me complete orders. We have a family philosophy and Zelaya would be nothing without the input of our whole team.


4. Share some of your inspirations.

I draw inspiration from three main sources: traditional Salvadoran culture, nature, and everyday life. The simplicity and functionality of the traditional Salvadoran way of life inspires much of the sewing and fabric manipulation techniques. The colors, shapes, and textures used in my designs are inspired by the tropical flora and fauna that surrounds me. And lastly, the eclecticism and versatility of my urban life provides my work with an edge of dynamism that complements the classic simplicity of my craft.


5. What’s your creative process like?

Since I never know when or from where an idea will come to me, I always have a notebook and pencil everywhere I go. Collecting magazine tear outs, postcards, textiles, leaves, and anything that crosses my path and catches my eye has also become second nature to me. I’m in constant search for inspiration. Once its time to sit down and design a cohesive line, I take a look at all the objects and ideas I collected and based on that I decide on a single theme for a new line. I create an inspiration board and use that as the grounds from which fresh designs will emerge.


6. What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far?

I moved to the United States from El Salvador when I was 18 to complete my undergraduate studies in fine arts. I had always envisioned working with my mother through a family business since we share similar passions. We gave it a try but her living in El Salvador and I in the US proved to be challenging. After revising our work model several times, we were able to find a process that not only was practical, but also satisfied each of our need for artistic expression. For a time, we decided to work independently, but have learned to collaborate in a really fruitful way. Successfully figuring out how to work with my mother in a very positive and sustainable fashion has been by far my greatest accomplishment. It has enabled me to get to know and learn from my mother as a grown woman, despite the distance. I feel blessed that my professional and personal life have come into sync so nicely.


7. What’s new or in the works?

We are very excited about the new line we will be introducing in the Spring. This line will feature new silhouettes and explore different appliqué and embroidery techniques. We are also very excited about our soon to be launched, revamped website, which will include a store and a shopping cart.



  1. Wonderful interview! You are so talented Barbara. I love the family philosophy. I’m so proud of you amiga!!! Suerte y adelante!!!

  2. Great interview! Really enjoyed reading about Barbara’s evolving relationship with her Mom and the mix of family and business she’s got going. Sounds like a “win” for everybody.

  3. Love, love, love her work! I have been eyeing it on etsy for a while know. Lovely interview!

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