Meet Erika Torrejon, Pasos - BC Marketplace

PASOS Fashion & Home Get Directions

We connect the world to artisan made treasures of the Andes one step at a time. PASOS offers handcrafted fashion accessories, multipurpose bags, unique gifts and home decor. Our products are ethically sourced and sustainably made by artisans in Peru. Pasos was founded in 2021 by female entrepreneur Erika Torrejon and its based in Langley.

Community: Langley Region: Mainland/Southwest District: Metro Vancouver

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When she created Pasos, Erika Torrejon set out to share her Peruvian culture with her adopted home of Canada. This growing small business sells ethically sourced and sustainably made accessories from artisans in her home country, supporting them as they bounce back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based in Langley, Erika’s story is one of hard work and determination, making a life for herself in a new country while retaining strong links to her homeland.

We caught up with Erika to learn how she went from a journalist to an entrepreneur with a fast-growing business.

What made you decide you wanted to start your own business?

Like many others, the pandemic hitting in 2020 made me re-think my priorities and what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted a change for myself, and I began to explore how I could make that change happen.

We can all be creatures of habit and get into these comfortable routines of showing up to work each day automatically without any passion. I wanted to pursue a business I was passionate about and do something meaningful.

Before moving to Canada, I worked as a journalist in my native Peru. I travelled extensively and learned so much about the culture and history of my country. I grew up with entrepreneurship in my family, and when I decided to start a business, I wanted it to be one focused on my culture. I took webinars, built up my business knowledge, and launched Pasos Fashion Co. in 2021.

Going from a journalist to entrepreneur – how did you build those skills?

It was a natural transition for me thanks to how I was raised. My parents ran a successful business in Peru, and I spent weekends helping them with the business while growing up. Instead of spending time at the beach in summer, I’d be helping with things like payments, accounts, and odd jobs. I learned a lot about running a business in this time.

That knowledge could only take me so far, and I knew I needed to learn more. I attended BCIT and graduated with a business administration diploma. At the end of 2020, I attended a business boot camp for new immigrants. The only problem was, I wasn’t a new immigrant! Thankfully, they accepted me into the program, and I learned the practical skills I needed to set my ideas into motion. Mentorship was a huge part of it too, with my mentor from the program helping to push me past obstacles; to have more confidence, and not let solvable problems stop me from succeeding.

I am a perfectionist at heart, and it’s something I had to learn to let go of with business. You want things to be perfect but it’s something that just isn’t possible. All you can do is keep pushing, learning, and growing along the way. That’s been a big stretch for me.

I grew up with entrepreneurship in my family, and when I decided to start a business, I wanted it to be one focused on my culture.

What is the process like for having your products made in Peru?

During the COVID pandemic, we were privileged here in Canada. The government had so many programs to support people and help them through it. Peru was a different story.

Tourism is a huge industry in my home country and entire villages of artisans make all their income from tourism. When the pandemic hit, their income disappeared – they had no way to provide for their families.

I thought I could provide an outlet for their skills and a way for them to support their families. I reached out to leaders from several communities and spoke to them about making products for my business. Supply wasn’t a problem as they kept making during the pandemic, they just didn’t have an audience to sell their products to.

That’s how I got my first batch of products to sell. I was buying hand-made authentic Peruvian products directly from the makers, with that money going entirely back into their communities.

What’s the meaning of the name Pasos?

There is a story behind the name! In Spanish, Pasos means steps, and there have been so many steps necessary to launching this business. When I emigrated to Canada, I had to go through so many steps, and I had to remind myself to walk the journey step-by-step and live each day as it came.

Starting a business reminded me of this process. It’s living life slowly, step-by-step and taking the challenges and opportunities of each day as they come. This is the idea behind the name.

I have an ecommerce website set up at MyPasos and I ship across Canada and the US. People can learn more about my story, view the products and get to know the business there. I’m pretty active on Instagram too, you can find me @PasosCanada.

How has your experience been as an immigrant entrepreneur in Canada?

It takes perseverance, you need to be comfortable with taking risks, and willing to overcome objections and rejections. There are going to be people that will tell you that you aren’t good enough, but if you stay focused on your goals Canada is filled with opportunities.

I’ve been building Pasos as a side project while working as an Insurance Agent. Alongside this, I have my husband and two kids. After I work my insurance job, I come home, spend time with family, put the kids to bed, then work on my business at night. You must be willing to embrace hard work if you want to succeed. Keeping balance and priorities should be top of mind. My “why” are my children, leaving them a legacy, just like my parents did for me, is one of my priorities.

Why is it important for people to support small businesses like yours?

When you support a small business, you’re supporting your local community. We are a family based in Langley. Any money we receive goes back into the economy here in so many small ways.

I love to attend craft markets here in town as I fall in love with the passionate people I meet there. We are all doing our best as vendors and it’s a beautiful community to be a part of. At the markets where I meet people face-to-face, they ask me questions about Peru, and I get to share the story of how Pasos is supporting Indigenous people at home. There’s a ripple effect from choosing to support small businesses and knowing that you can reach out to people from other parts of the planet is incredible.

When you support a small business, you’re supporting your local community. We are a family based in Langley. Any money we receive goes back into the economy here in so many small ways.

PASOS Fashion & Home Get Directions

We connect the world to artisan made treasures of the Andes one step at a time. PASOS offers handcrafted fashion accessories, multipurpose bags, unique gifts and home decor. Our products are ethically sourced and sustainably made by artisans in Peru. Pasos was founded in 2021 by female entrepreneur Erika Torrejon and its based in Langley.

City/Region: Langley Region: Mainland/Southwest District: Metro Vancouver

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We respectfully acknowledge our place of work is within the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and that we serve the Peoples of the many Nations throughout British Columbia.