Summary, summer 2010

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Our last few days in Guatemala were so hectic we did not get around to blog and report back on all of the work we were able to accomplish. Now, with a bit of time, and back in NYC, I am happy to share this summary of our work (our team and most of the cooperative’s members are in the photograph below) in Santiago Zamora just a few weeks ago.

With only 9 full work days, this summer we decided to focus our time on supporting existing initiatives.  Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’ already had a community tourism program, so we decided to focus on that initiative.  We saw three areas for improvement:

    1. The program needed to be slightly tweaked, so we did what design school does best – we participated in a program (as tourists) and then critiqued the afternoon with the artisan women.  They appreciated all of the feedback we shared since they really hadn’t had this kind of external input since they started these activities.
    2. Their branding materials needed a redesign.  Not only did all of the content need to be bilingual, but our student team also mapped out a distribution strategy in Antigua – a map of the city with each location at which they can leave a flyer.  Here are the before and after of the flyer they had and the one we redesigned.  In the new one (on the right), we added a new logo for the cooperative as well as bilingual information about the program and its cost.  Click on either to see larger versions of each.  You will also notice they now have a website – a basic blog site which we designed for them (feel free to circulate it if you know of travelers going to Guatemala!)
    3. In advance of a summer 2011 trip during which we will want to focus on new product development, we conducted a design critique of the cooperative’s current artisan goods, and in particular focused on the fact that most of what they are making (beautiful but highly complex table runners) take too much time to make, cost too much, and are not products for which they can charge a fair price (because it would mean that they cost 10x what they can sell them for in the saturated market in Guatemala.)  As homework, we asked Ixoki to think more about their new bracelet design so as to come up with a product that will take them just an afternoon to make (and not 300 hours for a table runner.)  We also ran a workshop with the cooperative as a first step for them to start making their own designs to weave (as opposed to using existing design patterns which are sold all around Guatemala in local markets.)  In the photograph below you see two of the women of Ixoki working on a new design on graph paper, and with crayons, during one of the student-led workshops.

On our last night in Antigua, some of the women from Ixoki visited us in Antigua to deliver samples of the bracelets they have started designing since our initial critique of their work.  We are thrilled to see such motivation from this cooperative, as they are already exemplifying the leadership and initiative needed to run a successful business.  We were also very happy to learn that after visiting us, their next stop was the copy shop, where they were going to make dozens of copies of the flyer we designed for them so as to distribute them around Antigua.

Finally, stay tuned to learn about our partnership with the Association of Guatemalan Designers.  We had a fantastic meeting in Antigua during which we discussed how they can serve as on-the-ground contacts for our artisan collaborators throughout the year, and most importantly, how they can help our groups connect with a local craft/design market in Guatemala, therefore ensuring long-term sustainability for our projects.  Stay tuned!


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.



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