As mentioned in my last blog there was anticipation and excitement related to meeting with our artisans! Would we be able to communicate effectively? Would we get the stories we know exist or would there be too large a communication barrier? Would we be further inspired?!
Our morning began with coffee with Joy, an artisan representative, who would help us with communication, in other words, translate for us for most of the day. Joy gave us background on the artisan groups and some of the women’s stories and told some stories that she knew the women may not tell us directly. These are stories that she has learned by developing solid relationships over time. I think this is when Angela and I realized that in order to develop the relationships we desire it will take more than one visit- ok by us! Today was a day for us to meet the artisans, talk with them and hear what they were willing to share. Today was the beginning of a relationship that started for US with the creation of Threads; for these women the relationship would start today.
As we entered the artisan’s home, where the workshop is located, we were immediately greeted by the warmness of Nancy’s home, the founder of the workshop we were visiting. As we headed into the kitchen we met Maria who was cooking lunch for all of the artisans in the workshop. Maria is an example of the impact you don’t realize you are making when you start a business like Threads Worldwide. Maria and her children used to survive on only the money her husband allowed her each week. She never had an income of her own before being hired by Nancy. Now, while cooking lunch five days a week, she has provided opportunity for herself and her children that was not possible before. We always consider the artisans when we consider the impact we are making and Maria’s story was an unexpected surprise that touched our hearts.
The women were warm and welcoming as we entered their work shop. This group makes Tagua seed jewelry sold by Threads and the colors around the shop were breathtaking! Some of the women smiled shyly, some waved, and others gave us “Ecua-kisses”- small kisses on our cheeks. We took many photographs and spoke with the women through Joy. Nancy sat down with us for a while to discuss how having access to a global market has changed her life. She told stories from the very beginning when she could not afford doors for her home to what she has now, a beautiful home and stable lifestyle. She told stories of her children and the new baby on the way! She welcomed us back anytime; we were humble and grateful for the experience.
Threads Worldwide is making impact around the globe that is beyond our artisans. We are excited to hear more of these stories first hand and to share with you. Next up….Peru!