This past month, ten different organizations, cooperatives, and companies from Mexico, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guatemala and the US were represented in ATA’s Market Readiness Program during NY Now. Although geared towards international artisan producers, designers, exporters and craft-based organization leaders, the MRP welcomed participants representing other companies as well as those not affiliated with any organization. They are Angela Aldave, Constance Castrence, Brittany Guh, Marina Lujic, and Aleksandra Kruvant of Creative Associates International, Inc. in Washington, DC, Parwana Samady of Real Solutions and NH Consultancy in Afghanistan, and Adriana Guzman, a graduate student from New York.
In addition, artisans from ATA’s current project in Mexico, Cecilia Gomez Diaz, Francisco Marcolino Sanchez Hernandez, and Maria Margarita Hernandez Perez, attended the MRP in an effort to learn more about developing products, building relationships with buyers, and tapping into the US and international market.
ATA is proud to introduce the participants who successfully completed this year’s MRP and their organizations:
AMA (La Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano or The Highland Women Association)
Founded in 1994 by Guadalupe Ramirez, AMA is an organization of Maya women working in the Highlands of Guatemala developing new strategies of survival in the face of rapid social, economic and cultural change. With the mission to Increase the capacity of every woman to adapt to economic, social and climatic changes by creating new strategies for a sustainable life, AMA implements several programs to provide opportunities to create a brighter future themselves, their families and their communities. Through the House of Design Pixan, AMA’s artisan social enterprise and production house, a team of over 100 weavers, tailors, embroiders and leather-workers are on hand to produce unique collections inspired by the richness of the Maya culture. Rooted in a weaving and textile tradition, dating back thousands of years, Pixan offers an ethical and fair-trade production service to bring accessories, home decor or clothing designs to life. Going beyond paying a fair living wage to our artisan members, Pixan’s profits are reinvested into AMA’s Women’s Circles to deliver self-esteem, health, community engagement and business entrepreneurship programming.
Co-founded by friends, Dalia Lerner, Gemma Martinez Solis, and Maribel Cedillo, Artemateria creates a collaboration between innovative contemporary designers and artisan communities of diverse regions in the world. Our goal is to support artisans integrate their millinery techniques into art products that are high quality, unique, environmentally friendly and functional. The final result is an avant-garde product with a soul, faithful to the people that gave it form and in harmony with their traditions and surroundings.
Fabretto’s mission is to empower under-served children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential, improve their livelihoods, and take advantage of economic opportunity through education and nutrition. As one of its programs, Fabretto provides vocational and life skills education to young people to teach them marketable skills, like woodworking and craft-making, in order to take advantage of economic opportunities. Mike Anderson, designer and workshop advisor, showcased products from Fabretto during the MRP.
As a project of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, an international religious congregation ministering in 71 countries on five continents, HandCrafting Justice provides access to fair trade markets for unique, handmade goods created by enterprising women in the developing world working to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. By fostering self-reliance, ensuring fair wages, and building support networks, the organization offers far more than Fair Trade: HandCrafting Justice promotes human dignity by empowering women to overcome social and economic injustice. Alison Cebulla, wholesale sales manager, and Albert James, business manager, represented HandCrafting Justice at the MRP.
Khabar-e-Khosh or “good news” translated has been providing beautiful products handcrafted by Afghan artisans for over nine years. Khabar-e-Khosh works hard to preserve Afganistan’s rich jewelry-making and embroidery traditions and help disadvantaged artisans become financially independent through fair trade. Many of these artisans are women and as such, uneducated and discouraged from working outside the home. Thanks to their work at Khabar-e-Khosh, these women are able to enjoy solidarity and fellowship in a community environment while they work together to cut, shape, sand, polish and assemble stylish jewelry made from recycled glass, fluorite, lapis, carnelian, quartz, turquoise, and other semiprecious stones. Khanaqa Habidullah displayed jewelry from Khabar-e-Khosh during the MRP.
Founded by Farhana Asad, LEL Inlay works to passionately and faithfully conserve the art of handcrafted stone inlay, adhering to ancient techniques but introducing contemporary innovations. Each piece is meticulously hand crafted by master craftsmen (both male and female local Pashtuns and Afghan refugees) at the LEL workshop in Peshawar, Pakistan. Amongst LEL’s material palette are semi precious stones such as agate, lapis, turquoise, jade, malachite, serpentine, sand stone, onyx, jasper and colored marble in an exquisite play of line, color and texture. Farhana’s daughter and Creative Director, Mehurunnisa, represented LEL Inlay during the MRP.
For over 250 years, silk has been produced in Afghanistan, providing royalty with home decoration and fine clothing. However, nowadays it is very difficult to finding producers of Afghan silk because most weaving facilities were destroyed during the war. Nasima Payman’s love of silk for its beauty, softness and long tradition of use in Afghanistan inspired her to start Nasima Silks in 2005, where production of clothing and scarves began. Nasima Silks employs five weavers and forty embroiderers creating jobs in Herat where the silk is produced and Kabul where it is dyed and woven.
Founded by Nivedita Kumar, Wishwas‘ mission is to empower women in South Asian communities and lead them on the path to self-reliance and independence. To accomplish this, Wishwas provides vocational skills training, which will promote women to utilize their skills to achieve financial success. Their goal is to provide support, build confidence, and advance the technical skills of women in less privileged communities with the aim of enabling these women to achieve a level of financial freedom. This includes fostering women onto the path to becoming entrepreneurs of home-based businesses, marketing their services, or branding their goods.
WubLinks PLC is a partnership of five women who have organized a bi-annual bazaar, the Designers and Artisans (D&A) Bazaar which started as a way market their own and a few like-minded artisans’ creations. With the success of the first bazaar, the demand from both buyers and vendors gave birth to the regular bi-annual D&A Bazaar. For 10 years, D&A Bazaar has been linking producer groups and artisans to a broader market. In average, the bazaar hosts more than 150 artisans and attracts more than 3000 buyers. Artisans participating at the D&A bazaar approximately have collectively generated more than a million dollars in the past 9 ½ years. Four members of the D&A organizing team, Salem Kassahun of Salem’s Design, Menbere Lidetu of Menby’s Design, Tadelech Esuneh of Ariti Herbal, and Martha Getachew of ABBA Garment Design attended the MRP.