By Andra Breazeale
Andra, WPMarket Associate Director, is currently living in Guatemala and got a chance to catch-up with our newest partner organization Friendship Bridge. She shares her experience in a two-part blog.
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue. Like many, I learned about colors early in life from books, crayons and toys. Guatemala is a country with a centuries-old culture of weaving and here many young girls learn colors from their mothers and grandmothers while learning the traditional art of weaving. Knowledge of colors is passed down from generation to generation and many times also based on items found around the home, in turn, leaving the women with a sense of colors different from what they may find in a store when purchasing materials to make their products. How would you ask a store manager for the dark green of a ripe güisquil or the creamy white of the petal of the monja blanca, Guatemala’s national flower? América Chiyal, Friendship Bridge’s Artisan Project Coordinator learned this reality first hand on her routine artisan home visits.
Recently, I had the chance to sit down with América at Friendship Bridge’s Panajachel, Guatemala office, located near the shores of Lake Atitlán (one of the world’s most beautiful lakes).
América supports approximately 40 artisans through trainings and home visits, providing advice on quality control, seasonality of products and color combinations. When the staff at Friendship Bridge learned that many of their clients would benefit from training in color theory, they created a simple method using crayons in order for the artisans to learn shades and common names of colors and experiment with color combinations attractive to a foreign aesthetic. América shared that before this training, one of the artisan clients was producing a scarf in one color but is now making four products using a variety of colors and successfully exporting them to the international market.
These stories showcase the holistic support that Friendship Bridge is providing their artisans. Although this training on colors may seem simple, this additional skill allows the women to create more demand-driven products, which increases their income and ability to provide for the basic needs of their families. As I sat listening to América share story after story of these women, I beamed with pride to be a part of the Women’s Partnership Market (WPMarket) who partners with organizations like Friendship Bridge to offer training and access to markets. We work with organizations that value the talents, expertise and courageous stories of women and provide training, build confidence and empower women to pursue their dreams for themselves and their families.These organizations are focused on more than just the bottom line.
We at WPMarket are honored to share the Friendship Bridge story this month and feature the one-of-a-kind Maria Clutch. A clutch that will definitely make all of your girlfriends jealous, but more importantly a clutch that makes a statement. A statement to the world that fashion and buying handmade products can make a big impact in the lives of traditional artisans. Learn more and shop the Maria Clutch here:
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series next week!
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