Part of working with artisans is that unless you are a larger company, heavy in monetary and time resources it's very difficult to work with an artisan group from the ground up. Non-profits, NGO's, and private consultants exist in the global handcrafts industry to provide artisan capacity building and market linkage allowing businesses like mine the opportunity to collaborate with them to produce their collections. Of course there are plenty of businesses that work with one country/community and are therefore able to invest their time/resources into that one community. Proud Mary exists with the goal of providing a global exploration of textiles and because we choose to work in numerous parts of the world we have to depend on these organizations to get our artisan partners to a point where they are export ready; able to speak English, able to communicate via email, able to consolidate/ship orders, and willing to collaborate creatively. We've been super lucky to find great facilitators in each country where we work and owe a lot to the Non-profits and NGO's that have connected us to our producing groups. All that being said the case with our gal in Peru is one that this group was not yet ready to export, they are still in need of the proper business training and willingness to cooperate in order to become export ready. I had high hopes that we could get on the same page during our brief visit to their coop but that was not the case. I am not completely naive to think that a 4 day workshop would get them into shape but I was at least hoping for a verbal agreement that they and I would begin to put the wheels in motion. When our verbal agreement sort of fell apart I took my trip to Peru as a discovery trip to see exactly what type of textiles they produce and what Proud Mary's production options were.
We found some beautiful things. Peruvian weaving has a refinement not
seen in Guatemala where a lot of Proud Mary products are made. We toured a natural dyeing workshop, visited the most adorable man in the universe and perused his flat woven, geometric wool goodies, sat with a weaver in a highland village as she explained her process, and scoured every market we came across. Verdict? Peru is full of textile magic!