This is the second installment of a series we’re calling “Conversations.” It’s more of an interview series, where we ask our vendor partners questions about their experiences working directly with artisans around the world. You may not know it, but every product we carry has a team of people who are dedicated to doing trade on the fairest terms possible. Fair Trade is about transparency and creating a dialogue – we hope this series shines a light on some of the struggles artisans are faced with and also some of the positive changes that have come out of their fair trade partnerships.
We sent some questions to our partner Jenny Krauss (on the left above), founder of a fair trade organization by the same name. Jenny works with women in Ayacucho, Peru who embroider belts, pillows and purses and just recently made a trip to visit them.
How often do you have the opportunity to visit the artisans?
I visit twice each year.
What were the goals of your most recent visit? (If you were working on new products, how do you decide what new products/designs to work on?)
The goals are always to meet with the embroiderers and product development. They love the visits and I’m usually greeted with a parade followed by testimonials about how the work has helped their families and communities. For product development, we mostly stick with the same products (belts, purses, bags, etc.) but try to come up with fresh, new designs. The decisons are based on what we love and think our customers will love.
Do you have a story to share about an artisan or an artisan family?
I’ve heard lots of stories over the years but here’s one I love. Many of the women have husbands who don’t want them to work but, needing money, they do anyway. After the husbands see what the income can do, they want in. I’ve met husbands who now transport materials back and forth because that’s a paying job. One woman bought her husband a chicken and he started a business selling eggs. The culture is sexist and there’s a lot of rape and single motherhood. The money the women earn not only helps to alleviate poverty, it boosts self-esteem and self-empowerment.
What kind of positive changes have you seen occur in the communities/families that you work with since you started?
What is one difficulty you or the artisans have faced?
There’s a severe rainy season in the Andes and I’ve seen it wipe out roads, homes, and cause bad accidents.
Jenny’s work with the women in Ayacucho has given them stability and hope. Living in a remote area, the women face poverty, lack of respect from their husbands and the further instability of harsh weather. To be able to rely on themselves, and the work provided through Jenny’s fair trade partnership with them, is a tremendous step towards self-sustaining, prosperous lives. We are grateful for the work Jenny does to connect stores like ours to the talented women of Ayacucho.
[button colour=”turquoise” type=”slightlyroundedarrow” size=”large” link=”https://www.fairtradewinds.net/clothing-bags-scarves/belts/” target=”_self”]Shop Jenny Krauss Embroidered Belts[/button]