I’m Israel Lazaro. I was born in Mexico but raised in Carrboro, NC, and I’m the founder of Calaveras La Catrina based in Durham, NC.
Growing up I watched my mother set her ofrenda (altar) for the Day of the Dead every year. I became obsessed with this tradition of ours. The intoxicating smell of the fruit, candles, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and marigolds made me feel like we were home in Mexico. I also noticed that we never had traditional sugar skulls on the table and asked my mother why that was. She responded that no one knew how to make them, and that answer was enough of an answer for me at eleven-years-old.
After my father passed away in 2014, I set up my first Day of the Dead ofrenda. Having always missed them in my childhood, I searched for sugar skulls for my own ofrenda, but I never could find any. I decided then that I would make them myself.
After much trial and error, I’ve cultivated tried-and-true recipes and decorating techniques. I still have much to learn, but I’m forever grateful that I’m able to express myself through this craft that has so much personal and cultural significance.
I'm Erika Alandt, Israel's partner in life and business. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a minor in Hispanic Studies in 2011. I am currently pursuing an MBA and work in Chapel Hill as an event planner.
My appreciation for crafts was instilled in me from a young age, by my wonderful mother. In addition to constantly being covered in icing and food coloring, I am a quilter and enjoy cozying up on the couch with embroidery projects. Calaveras la Catrina, then, is a true passion project for me. It permits me to indulge in my love of all things beautiful and handmade, while utilizing business and design knowledge.
We live in Durham, NC with our two fluffy and four-legged assistants: Lucy & Quinn.