Temux Mayan Artisans update
category: Jims Guatemala

AnaBaltazarMarcosSM.jpgThe women are crocheting away. Check out Ana and her awesome bag! Slowly but slowly, the Temux Mayan Artisans co-op is gaining steam. Emily met with them last week, and put the ladies to work on another batch of morrales, this time to stock up the Etsy store. Our last batch went to Len Crawford, who a few months back donated startup money for the co-op, and wanted a half-dozen or so to show to prospective merchant resellers. So far, keeping up with production is our biggest challenge: you can’t sell stuff if there’s nothing in the store. But the women still haven’t really figured out that this is a legitimate “job” yet. We paid them a few hundred well-earned Q when they finished their bags last time, though, so maybe the idea will start to sink in. It was disheartening to hear one woman say that she couldn’t be bothered to come to the co-op meetings, because she was too busy. BUSY? We saw this lady’s morral, it was awesome. She could easily make 200q in a week selling those things through the co-op; that’s 40q a day. Remember, 30q a day is what a MAN earns, working the fields from sunup to sundown. How can she not have time for a meeting about this?

Suprisingly, the easiest part has been setting up connections for selling the work abroad. When our friend Robin Ragan came to visit, she expressed interest in having the Spanish students at Knox College adopt our village as a fundraiser/social work project. This is a good fit, as the morrales would appeal to that demographic group, and give the students an alternate peek into what Guatemala is before they come to visit in the spring. We are still theorizing about the details, but we are looking into direct sales by students (a medium-term idea) as well as possibly selling morrales through the college bookstore, especially the ones sized for water bottles (a more long-term relationship).

mag_image.jpgWe were also approached in late June by an online fashion magazine, Viva la Moda, that wanted to show our wares in their July issue. The magazine is a relatively new publication, but is well-edited and has lots of other cool stuff in it as well. We said YES, of course. Who wouldn’t want their business to appear in a cool magazine? You can check it out at www.vivalamoda.co.cc

We made some unexpected contacts elsewhere in the craft world as well. Natalia Araya, a jeweler in Costa Rica, has been selling her wares through Etsy for a while, and stumbled across our blog. She introduced herself, and we brainstormed some on business stuff like how to transfer money internationally, and how to best ship product abroad. Her work is really slick too (I feel I am qualified to lend opinon on that, as I went to grad school for jewelrymaking and metalsmithing. Betcha didn’t know that!) and if you feel inclined, you can check out her stuff on Etsy. Click here.

Emily Alta continues to carry the Peace Corps torch even after her return to the US, having sought out interested vendors in Georgia. To help promote our women’s work, she requested I make a few posters that can be enlarged and printed by any graphics shop, to place in storefronts to help educate shoppers about what we do at Temux Mayan Artisans and why. She is the snuq’ anima, the “voice of the people”, negotiating pricing and color/patterns with the vendors for us.The posters are available here if you want to download them to see what might be appearing in the storefront of a fair-trade boutique near you.

TMA posters.jpg TMA posters2.jpg

Posted by: jfanjoy