Day 3: Anserma

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What a fantastic day. Although never made explicit, the big difference between yesterday and today was our group agreeing that we should have “demonstration of entrepreneurial spirit” as a criteria for groups with whom we are interested to collaborate. This was apparent in today’s group – although they do not work full-time as artisans, they have the desire to do so and currently find other ways to make a living. We met with just four of the ten women in the artisan association, but had two extremely productive sessions (morning and afternoon) in which we were able to establish join goals and objectives for this initiative we are helping build, and began to map out next steps.

“ASEDAN Punto y Seda” has an interesting history – they were brought together 10 years ago when, through an international cooperation agreement, the Japanese government donated dozens of large looms. At the time, Anserma was known as the silk capital of Colombia, so weaving with silk threads was the craft these women took on. Ten years later, silk is no longer grown locally and yet the product line was the most diverse and demonstration of mastery we have perhaps seen in all of our DEED collaborations.

These products (in the photo are their “Ansermeñas”, one-of-a-kind multicolor scarves with over 90 unique patterns in each) are ready for new markets, and that will most likely become the focus of our collaboration. There are certainly many steps that need to be put into place, and via which we and our local partners can support them which include

  • Shifting from designing individual products to developing product lines for a luxury, intermediary, and basic market
  • Optimize their production costs to see if they can increase their profit margin per product
  • Create an electronic press kit that showcases their mastery and diverse portfolio

We know we’re in the right place when we feel we should stay for at least a month to jumpstart some of the suggestions. Although we can’t we certainly are moving onto our next town with enthusiasm and optimism for these 10 women (or as a student suggested they brand themselves, “The 10 Cocoons.)

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