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Hualhuas, Huancayo, Peru
Graciela’s entire family is involved in the artisan business, so she grew up in this environment and learned to weave at a young age. Her father gave her a little part of the store to sell her own designs, and she has continued to develop her own style and practice her own business skills through Fair Trade. Also, the family shares design ideas.
La Esperanza has two workshops, one in Graciela's house where there are three small looms and another in Tahuantinsuyo Artesanías that she shares with the rest of the family. Their products feature traditional Andean motifs. They weave all of the fabrics and one of the members has a sewing machine in her house where she sews everything together.
Weaving is a traditional art that is quickly being lost in a globalized world. With big machines able to do the weaving quickly and for lower costs, artisans like the women of La Esperanza are struggling to survive and preserve their skill. Working with Fair Trade has shown the women that the work that they do is indeed worthy. It has allowed them to continue using their weaving skills that have always defined them as a family and which are highly valued in Andean society, even if their value is not necessarily seen in a commercialized world.
Graciela says, “Fair Trade has supported me… It has saved me. I am able to set aside and save the money I make in order to send my children to university.” She has four children and all of them have completed secondary school and are either on their way through university or have begun working in careers thanks to their college degrees. The proceeds from every one of their products goes to these families and helps pull them out of the poverty that once seemed inevitable. The name of their group, which means “Hope” in Spanish, is a testament to what they have found through their participation with Bridge of Hope.
The vision of La Esperanza is to go to more and bigger artisan fairs and continue expanding their clientele. Graciela in particular wants to learn to sew as well and buy a sewing machine. She also wants to learn how to use the internet in the next workshop that Bridge of Hope offers.