An Inside Story with Artemateria: A Business of Heart

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Artemateria, an alumnus of the Market Readiness Program™ (MRP), is a success story. We are happy to be partners in Artemateria’s success. Artemateria’s goal is to support Mayan artisans in Chiapas who integrate their millinery techniques into art products that are high quality, unique, environmentally friendly and functional. Since they attended the MRP 2013, the organization has grown by exhibiting their product collection at the ATA booth for four consecutive NY NOW trade shows and reached a new milestone in their history in the February 2016 NY NOW. Artemateria received a remarkable amount of orders, Its sales grew by a factor of 16, including a recurring one for Calvin Klein.

 

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ATA is pleased to share Artemateria’s success with you. We asked Artemateria about their experience at NY NOW their expectations for the future and their advice to others who want to improve their craft products and sell in the U.S. market.

 

 

ATA: Tell us about your experience at NY NOW with ATA. What is the most exciting part of going there for you?

Artemateria: After all the logistics and hard work, it is very exciting to see the products you’ve worked so hard to develop exhibited and be seen and appreciated by buyers, designers and the press.  Interacting with this public and walking the show to feel the pulse of the market and trends is really exhilarating and it motivates us to keep moving forward, growing and eventually becoming an established brand.

ATA: What has been the most interesting/game changing contact you’ve made at NY NOW and why?

Artemateria: It has been a learning experience to interact with artisan leaders in the field and come out with enhanced products that are exciting and appeal to buyers and the public. We love having our favorite high-end boutiques buying from us. When major retailers like Calvin Klein, ABC Home and Carpet, Anthropologie, The Citizenry, The Sundance Catalogue have placed orders we know we have done something right!

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ATA: You have significantly increased your sales at NY NOW since your first participation in 2013. In what ways do you think the MRP and ATA have been a platform for these substantial improvements?

Artemateria: Working with ATA has definitely given us a seal of confidence in the eyes of the market.  ATA is recognized for working and standing by people who are interested in enhancing artisan entrepreneurship and dignity and ensures that the result of their sales is directed at the betterment of artisan communities’ living conditions and the continuity of their culture and craft.  A lot of other organizations claim to do so but only as a marketing scheme. They don’t really verify their claims and seasoned buyers in the artisan and handmade market know that.

 

ATA: What have been the biggest challenges for your organization and your artisans since your first exhibition at NY NOW?

Artemateria: When you start a small company with very limited capital you have to be the hub of everything! The logistics are less than ideal: your garage becomes a warehouse and your living room a packing station!  You are your own accountant, database organizer, marketing advisor, project manager, etc.  But we have learned so much! And it has definitely been cheaper and more fun than an MBA!

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ATA: What drives you the most in working with artisans?

 

Artemateria: All the artisans we work with are amazing.  They have a truly unique sense of humor and purity of heart, as well as an innate talent and ancestral connection to their craft. We love our connection to these communities, and ultimately to give back to the culture and land where we grew up and that gave us so much.  Even though we have been living in the States for a long time, our hearts are always connected to Mexico.

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ATA: Can you tell me about one artisan’s story that continually motivates you to improve their outcomes?

 

Artemateria: Our Opuntia collection is produced by Miguel, an artisan from Hidalgo, Mexico, whose family was so poor that many years ago, when his mother picked a bunch of beautiful wild flowers from the surrounding fields, she didn’t have a vase or container to place them.  They live in a zone abundant with cacti so Miguel’s father molded a vase out of cactus fiber and surprised her with the gift! That is how he originated the process, which he taught to his son, in order to make pieces to sell and support the family.  Artemateria has been working with Miguel to continue to develop and improve this original and unique technique into functional quality products with elevated design.

 

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ATA: In your opinion, what is the main thing to grasp from participating in the MRP and NY NOW?

 

Artemateria: Handmade and Artisan business, as every other type of business endeavor, require a lot of hard work, effort, structure, determination and – particularly characteristic of this field – patience, but in the end it is all worth it because it also involves a lot of heart.

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ATA: What are the next steps for Artemateria? Are your artisans making plans for the future as well?

 

Artemateria: Our first years were a learning curve that helped us set a structure and logistics; now we have our eyes set on growth!

 

Absolutely, the plans we make go hand in hand with the development of our artisans.  There are various projects on the works within our different collections such as testing dyes for our Palm Leaf baskets, introducing new beautiful and richer colors, as well as launching new designs with leather. We also plan on training new artisan families to enhance production capacity.  We have introduced our Opuntia artisan to an organic chemist and they worked together to enhance the product to better withstand the elements. We are also thinking of incorporating new threads and patterns such as metal and wool in our textile line. And much more!

 

We have also just registered Artemateria Mexico to establish an office there in order to expand our client base and help to better coordinate and expand our artisan base, as well as to find new talents and ventures.  In addition to that, we partnered with John Robshaw Textiles to be their distributors in Mexico and build a client base for them there.  Many exciting things to come!

 

ATA is proud to be Artemateria’s long-term partner and to continue to support this amazing organization on its way to greater and greater success. Check out Artemateria’s beautiful handcrafts, now available among the collection of internationally famous retail brands:

Calvin Klein

Robert Redford’s Sundance Catalog

Anthropologie

The Citizenry

And stay tuned for the exciting upcoming projects of this organization that is only at the beginning of its boom, and that you will definitely hear about more and more in the future!