While in Peru, we arranged to work with a new group of artisans. Mostly women artisans, we worked to design and produce high quality jewelry and textile products to sell through our network of partners with the income providing the artisan’s a steady income. In this part of Peru, traditional income is earned during the 3 months of rainy season where the women and the children work in the fields planting and harvesting corn, potatoes, and vegetables. By working with Exotic World Gifts, together, we can provide year-round sustainable income to these gentle, beautiful, and hard working people.
The village, about 45 minutes outside of Cusco, we find a group of about 40 Inca women with whom we are working to enhance their scarves and jewelry designs as well as techniques to create items of highest quality and uniqueness. Each of the women have had a difficult life and most have multiple children. Their current designs are unremarkable. Liz is brilliant in her evaluation of their skill set and available materials. The woman are very sweet and want to be successful in producing great products so that they can provide a better education for their children. We are having a wonderful connection with the women and the children as they realize that we truly care about them.
After purchasing the needed yarn and jewelry materials in Cusco, we drove the 45 minutes on very rough dirt roads into the mountainous area where our community lives. On this day, we worked with 32 women complete with 8 men, 12 children, 4 infants, and a slumbering dog who chose to always be the center of the activity. The women are very excited about the new colors, textures, and styles of scarves/shawls that Liz is co-creating with them. Liz’s jewelry ideas bring “ahs” and “ohs” from the women as they see new possibilities.
At the end of the trip, our group spent a day in Machu Picchu. While we were gone, the artisans were busy making scarves and jewelry. Upon our return, we made some additional suggestions as to how they can make their products more sell-able. We then had the ladies put on their first fashion show where they danced and laughed while we took great video. So wonderful to see them happy and proud of their work.
Prior to our departure, with the help of a translator, we interviewed five of the women on video. We asked them questions like:
- What difference will us selling your products make to you?
- How do you feel about us suggesting some different designs and colors for your products?
- What do you want to say to the people watching this video about you and your community?
All five women, including Liz, me, and the translator, cried as they shared their appreciation for being acknowledged; for being valued; for the opportunity to work and use their skills to earn money and provide a better education for their children; for feeling connected to some special people and knowing that someone cares about them …
After an exciting and moving time in Peru, upon arrival back in the states, we shared these new products from Peru with friends…the products were very well received and people were very excited to show off their new look. From Natalia in a small community outside of Cusco, Peru…to Annie in San Diego, CA. The route of Fair Trade and Better Lives!
Thanks for helping these women create “better lives!”