“I was challenged intellectually on a daily basis and I learned how to manage my time, think critically and formulate my own ideas and opinions. “



What is Shazia doing?

Shazia holds a B.A. Biology from The Colorado College (Colorado, USA). She is currently in her last year of a PhD in Genetics from The University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia).

She is a Co-Founder of The Artisan Project (, an ethical fashion start-up working hand in hand with indigenous artisans in Ecuador. The team is based in Melbourne, Australia and Quito, Ecuador.

How would you describe the experience you had when building your own business?

As with any business, it wasn’t without challenges. However, we have an amazing team of four dedicated Ecuadorian women (including me) with a wide range of skill sets that allowed us to start from 0 and gain traction very quickly. Our biggest challenge was and still is managing tasks at hand in Ecuador and Australia simultaneously, as we have production/partnership development in Ecuador and sales/public relations in Australia and online. The statement “Ethical fashion proudly handcrafted in Ecuador” truly describes the passion behind our business. Ethical fashion refers to our business and impact model with transparent production chains as we work directly with artisan cooperatives and the artisans themselves while also providing them with income-generating opportunities. We believe in empowering artisans, particularly indigenous women, by collaborating with them and providing them direct access to international markets through our platform where they can commercialize their products. Proudly handcrafted refers to the combination of innovative product designs and traditional, ancestral handcrafting techniques that preserve our cultural heritage. This makes up our core production process and we focus on maximizing these crafting techniques and proudly showcasing our beautiful handicrafts to the world. In Ecuador highlights the fact that we are a 100% Ecuadorian start-up and proudly founded by Ecuadorian women.

Shazya´s thoughts and learnings from Academia Cotopaxi 

“I loved my AC experience! Some of my fondest memories are from high school and my best friends from high school are still my best friends today. We have kept in touch over the years and our friendship is just as strong. I remember my high school days filled with laughter and good times - whether it was on the steps during lunch time, at a sports event or after class. I also had some of the best teachers who not only were great mentors, but people who I still consider my friends and am lucky enough to still be in contact with.

At Academia Cotopaxi I was challenged intellectually on a daily basis and I learned how to manage my time, think critically and formulate my own ideas and opinions. This curiosity that was instilled in me, especially through the IB program, opened the doors for my college studies and have now allowed me to pursue one of my career dreams, completing my PhD.
Since I graduated from AC I have grown both personally and professionally but I still think I have the same energy and drive as my high school self - I’m still doing a million things at a time!”