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A cosmonaut in the land of the long white cloud

We introduce Yenny Muñoz Galleguillos founder of Cosmonauta.

Yenny is originally from the beautiful city of Valparaíso, Chile. Two years ago she came to New Zealand with her husband, with the intention of looking for new opportunities.

Yenny is the founder of COSMONAUTA the company she created to produce articles with art and design. She tells us that Cosmonaut seeks to create elements (necessary and not so necessary) to brighten everyday life and be useful at home and for home decoration.

Yenny is a Graphic Designer and Elementary School Teacher by profession, which has helped her become a talented artist. Since she was little, she had the talent to draw and over time she was discovering her abilities to learn very quickly everything related to arts and crafts; from painting, weaving and embroidery, among others

Yenny's favourite products from Tienda Pachamama are dulce de leche San Ignacio, coffee Juan Valdez and all the Chilean chocolates that remind her of her beloved Chile, such as Trencito and Negrita.

Yenny tell us, what motivated you to move from Chile to Nwe Zealand?

My husband, who was just my friend at the time, wanted to travel the world and learn the culture of different countries through work in exchange for food and lodging. I admired him a lot and I loved that he thought like that! I even envied the woman who was going to be his future wife, without knowing that she was going to be me!

We started dating and then, he realized that his plan was going to change a bit! We applied for the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. I had no idea about New Zealand! Im in my 30's and I always thought that Oceania was just Australia. I'm a teacher, what a shame, I know! Excited and nervous we waited, after two weeks, he got the visa. We were so happy, but also worried because I didn't know if I would get it or not. Days passed and nothing happened, I was desperate, I thought I wouldn't get a Working Holiday Visa. I checked the immigration page every day. After almost four weeks, it finally arrived! It was such a relief. After three months we got married and half a year later we came to New Zealand.

How did Cosmonauta started?

Cosmonauta could have been born in Chile, but dedicating yourself 100% is almost impossible when you need to make a living wage. Especiall,y when you also have to make every single object that makes up your brand. When I was studying design, I always loved subjects dedicated to drawing and in which you could create interesting elements, but I knew that I could not live on that. So I always saw it more as a hobby. I'm talking about the mid-2000s, when the idea of having a small company was not as popular as it is today. I decided to go for a more conventional career. You have to work hard to have a better life and there is almost no time left for your hobbies or an undertaking, which, in my case, needed a lot of dedication to create. I always felt something was missing.

When I arrived in New Zealand, the doors opened much easily, though no less challenging. Here, everything that is done with your hands is valued more, you just have to be creative and always apply yourself with dedication and professionalism.

In Chile, I knitted scarves, gloves, and necks for my friends and classmates at university. I only charged for the materials and a little more. Sometimes, I also gave them away for free. I delivered them in a paper bag, with the Cosmonauta label made by hand. I don't remember when I first used this name. I think it was a long time ago, but since then I never stopped using it. It was here, in New Zealand, where I created my graphic line and was able to dedicate myself to making Cosmonaut a reality.

How did you learn to knit, sew and make all the wonderful hand-crafts that you do?

I liked the arts since I was little. Plastic arts and technical manualties were called at school. They were my favorite subjects in school. I always did so well on those subjects. My classmates would ask me to do a drawing for them or help them with artistic tasks. I always liked drawing and painting. I remember seeing my dad, mom, grandmother and my aunts doing crafts. Each one had their space dedicated to their artistic hobbies. I have very clear memories of my grandmother and my aunt with their shelves full of brushes, paints, pencils, papers. I loved it! I was always surrounded by people who really liked to create. I grew up with love and passion for making things and creating with my hands, inspired by my family. I'm so grateful I inherited this talent!

How did you start with this venture in New Zealand?

We were living in Christchurch and I saw a lady doing machine sewing in the city library. That library is a dream, a wonder! I always wanted to learn to sew with a machine in Chile, but I couldn't do it. I took courage, I approached her and, with my very bad English, I started to speak to her and asked her if she could teach me. She looked at me weird at first, but after talking for a while, she accepted. Maureen (that's the name of the lady), very patiently, explained me how to put the thread, take the fabric and everything necessary to sew. Between my beginners English and her patience, we managed to communicate and make bags, aprons, cases and more.

In the lockdown of 2020, Cristian, my husband, gave me my first sewing machine. I started practicing, watching tutorials, and ended up doing a lot of new creations. I went back to embroidering and knitting, and when the lockdown was over, I had enough material to start selling, even though I've never intended to.

We moved to Auckland for work, and we thought we should start selling my creations. We started looking for options on how to sell them. I set up my account on Instagram and we started going to the markets to see how they worked. I loved how the New Zealand markets are, they inspired me even more. I realized that manual and artisan work is highly valued here.

What challenges does Cosmonauta have?

Although I have a variety of products, I know I have to create more. The wonderful tradition or donating and recycling in New Zealand helps me a lot. I go to the second hand shops and find amazing treasures. With some creativity, skills and applying my knowledge I'm able to create some really cool products. This is why Cosmonauta allows people to own great products at a good price!

I'm creating "clothes" for the pots of my succulents and reusing elements, such as containers and tins. I'm always thinking of reusing and upcycling by giving new uses to discarded materials. Also, I'm doing a course in comic-style character creation drawing. I'm very excited about this new area. I think I could do interesting art. It's very important to always be learning and Cosmonauta allows me to do just that.

I would like my products to be not just for females, but for a wider audience. I love to discover new forms and creating with an assortment of elements, exploring, as a cosmonaut does in unknown places. Taking advantage of every opportunity to make new findings, knowing and opening new paths. I enjoy learning from people who know more than me or have already been settled in their business for a while.

Why did you decide to participate in Pachamama Latin market?

I was looking for markets to participate and the publication that Pachamama were looking for people to do a Latin market. It was perfect! It suited me like a glove! I was worried that since I wasn't selling food I was going to be turned down. I submitted my photos and spoke to the organizers and they loved my stuff! I was very relieved and felt valued and appreciated!

That was the first time we participated in a market. I didn't know what things I needed for my stall. The first day, I arrived with a small parasol, while the others had gazebos and looked very professional. But, I used the opportunity to learn from everyone. Pachamama Latin market appeared at the right time and was the ideal place to grow my business.

The persistence of attending each market made us known among the community. People started asking me to do personal creations and requests, which I loved because it's a great challenge that allowes me to grow and learn new techniques.

What do you like best of Pachamama Latin market?

I love Tienda Pachamama! The Pachamama Latin market has been a beautiful place because it provide a space to show what each traveler brings from their native land, and New Zealanders have received it very well! It's a place where Latinos have a piece of their country. Pachamama Latin market has open doors to learn, grow, and live like we do at home.

I love the Pachamama market because it allows me to have a bit of Chile, it's food, dances and I feel that there are also other people like us, who don't forget where they come from. Also, of course, meet people from other Latin American cultures. I feel that outside of Latin America I have met more Latinos than when I was in Chile.

Finally, I would like to say that despite the challenges that arise, it is important to follow your dreams and persevere. It is possible to dedicate ourselves to what makes us happy, beyond our daily work. I realized that when you love doing something, you must dedicate time and effort to that and this makes you enjoy life more fully.

Don't forget to follow Cosmonauta on social media, find them at Facebook or Instagram You can contact Yenny ans ask her for a personalised design!

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