BARCO, SAN LUCAS TOLIMAN, September 17th, 2011
I visited the women of Barco and was met by a very pleasant and unexpected surprise. Since we (DEED) didn’t have funding this year to continue our work with the women in San Lucas Toliman, it was a great surprise to see the whole new line of products Barco had developed. Eufemia had them stored in a garbage bag in a corner of her apartment. She pulled them out one by one to show me, and I was amazed. The scarves looked so contemporary and unique, they had developed a new way of weaving that was much more loose and combined many more threads in both the warp and the weft. It made the scarves very soft, supple and lush, and extrmely comfortable to wear. I got very excited. I thought it would be amazing if the women of Barco would visit me in Antigua for a weekend, so we could show their products to different shops in Antigua.
Antigua is the tourist capital of Guatemala and it has many high-end textile stores that cater to western visitors. For the women this was a challenge, none of them had ever really stayed outside their village. They had some fear around traveling to Antigua and spending the weekend. I imagined it would be a good step and since I would accompany them and fund their trip, it might make their decision to come easier. In the weekend of July, Eufemia traveled to Antigua with the new product line of Barco. I met her at the bus station and that weekend, we visited all the high-end shops in Antigua. Many shops were interested and one placed an order with the women.
At the end of the day on Saturday, we walked into the shop Colibri and showed the sales women the scarves of Barco. The women were so enthusiastic that they called Vey, the owner of the shop. She asked to speak to me and I spoke with her briefly. Though she was busy, I was able to convince her to receive us at her home nearby the shop. Vey was great! She looked at all the products and talked with Eufemia about the weaving.
see Barco’s full collection here: http://www.barcotextiles.blogspot.com/
She asked Eufemia if she could come back to Antigua on Wednesday; she was hosting a buyer from the US and thought he would be interested in their product. She encouraged Eufemia to bring as many products as she could. Vey loves San Lucas Toliman, she has a house there and is exited to work with a women’s artisan collective from there. Colibri is one of the main high-end shops in Antigua and over the course of 20 years Vey has worked with approximately 500 artisan groups from all over Guatemala. Eufemia was delighted, and told me that now that she had been to Antigua once, she had no fear of traveling there again. She would return on Wednesday with as many products as she could carry.
The rest of the weekend we photographed the products together and sent them to some of the other shops that had requested to receive images. We created a first blog and an email address for Barco.
Vey paid Eufemia half of the money in advance so they could buy the yarns and make the products. The buyer from the US was extremely enthusiastic about the products and said they could easily be sold at Barney’s, New York. But since DEED doesn’t have a legal structure yet for the import of the products and the handling of money transactions this will have to wait. I am extremely grateful that Vey of Colibri invested in the women for now, and that the women made new steps in their process of growing a sustainable business.