First: I am so happy you are here. Truly, so grateful that you are interested in hearing about and potentially supporting this project. As I have spent nearly the last decade of my life on the move, in one form or another- I realized one of the most important aspects of my life, and what I crave is connection. Heartfelt connection to people and experiences, both near and far. You are a part of that.
Many of you know that in the late Spring of 2017, I moved to Guatemala City to work with women in helping them form an artisan cooperative. The program focused on teaching the knowledge to start and run a business, learn sewing skills, all the ins and outs of product design, and working together as a cooperative. They graduated in October 2017 and I returned to Denver, where I continued to support them with two more product designs, ongoing training and friendship from afar.
Recently, when I reached out to the women to express my congratulations on their business reaching one year and this milestone, they replied, “Thank you Estefany! But we are not working.” See, although they had been trained, and had their business up and running- they did not have sustainable enough work in order to have consistent work. I know how hard the holidays can be, and how discouraging it can be to not have work. At the same time, I was reading a book that was outlining how we, as individuals, can make small changes that can have big impacts.
This idea of ‘purchasing power’ and how we get to choose where our money goes stuck with me. At that moment, I calculated a rough idea of what I would [most likely] spend on gifts this year, and decided that if I was going to spend that money any way, then I wanted to invest that into this cooperative.
Over the last few weeks, I have been working with the women to design a few simple ornaments. Now, I am happy to give them all as gifts- but I thought, why not take a chance and share the message with others who may be interested in purchasing fair trade, handmade gifts for the holidays.
The truth is, there are some badass women in Guatemala City, working hard to raise themselves out of poverty. They have the knowledge and skill to have real, dignified work- they aren’t interested in a hand out. This holiday season, by using our purchasing power, this investment goes directly into their hands. These are women, who previously, had never had a job for even 3 months. Now, they have just reached the first year of being business owners and entrepreneurs, and I am hopeful that their work won’t stop here.
They say statistically you have to ask people 5 times before they are act and honestly, I don’t have that much time to annoy you ;). Right now, the ornaments are available for pre-sale, and if we somehow hit or exceed the order I have given the women by Sunday, November 18- we stand a chance of increasing their earning potential this year. All purchases will be in the U.S. by early December and should arrive at the latest by December 15.
I was talking to someone the other day who said these ornaments would be perfect for her coworkers and something they would remember her by- and I couldn’t agree more. I think that Ingrid, Francis, Lilian, Karen and Aura feel the same way.
Now, I want to say a few things before I go. I have nothing but the highest respect for you all and recognize that everyone has their own needs, desires and need to say- there is no pressure from me! There are so many options — you can join by purchasing, sharing the story with others, or simply following along for the journey. All are just as important as the other. You are welcome to respond, in whatever way feels right and best for you.