The members of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) worked 3 months making jewelry and soap, designing signs and sales tags, and finishing woven products to be sold at Independencia’s harvest fair, the Feria de la Chirimoya. The sales results didn’t warrant all the production, but the journey to the goal was fun and the sales experience was priceless.
Doña Máxima worked with the local carpenter to design a free standing wood frame to display the earrings. She tacked woven black material to the back, and made small tags to hold and identify each pair of earrings. All gathered around to watch her fill the box with the 88 pairs of earrings, thrilled to see their work displayed. A discussion about costs and pricing led to a price consensus of 3 Bolivianos (Bs.) per pair (42 cents), with 1 Bs. going towards supplies. During a pricing discussion last September with
jewelry trainer, Amanda Smiles, founder of Ruraq Maki the price with labor figured in was 12 Bs. Discussing what the market would pay brought the price down. Only 6 pairs of earrings sold at the fair, and 1 Bs. per pair had to be paid to PAZA for supplies. The sales experience did motivate the chicas to sell their earrings on their own. They plan to sell all before jewelry production begins again when Amanda arrives in September to offer her 2015 classes.
Everyone made a pair of earrings to wear at the fair. Sisters Veronica and Esther had allowed their pierced ears to close, so the other 2 chicas prepared to do the repiercing. Veronica asked for cinnamon bark to chew on to alleviate her anxiety.
There is no refrigerator thus no ice, which they´d never heard of using for numbing anyway. A needle, alcohol, and cotton were provided and after what seemed a long time, the two had thread strings looped through their earlobes. CdA provided alcohol and cotton for cleaning while the piercings healed.
The hand-made soaps dried on screens until a day before the feria. They were wrapped in paper stamped with the CdA logo and a second stamp that said “jaboncillo” (bath soap) and had lines to write in the type and weight. The soaps were cucumber with mint essential oil, oatmeal with lavender essential oil, carrot with apple synthetic fragrance, bars with rose synthetic fragrance, and avocado with lemon
synthetic fragrance. They were specially priced for their debut at 2 Bs. (28 cents each) and weighed between 60 and 70 grams. The cost per bar with essential oils is 2.20 Bs., but the synthetic fragrance bars only cost 1 Bs. to make. Commercially manufactured bars of soap weighing in at 60 grams cost 4 to 5 Bs. (56 – 70 cents), a luxury not affordable on a rural budget. We sold 16 of the 62 bars of soap, and the cucumber was the big seller.
CdA began a “beauty begins with cleanliness” campaign. It rolls off the tongue better in Spanish, “La belleza empieza con la limpieza”. One of the chicas had gone to the hospital to get relief from an itchy scalp and was told she had lice but was not given any remedy information. Dorinda offered to give her a hair washing, herbal rinse, and tea tree oil treatment and 2 more chicas and a young sister begged for the treatment. A big pot of water was heated. Rosemary was boiled with pennyroyal for a rinse, and new combs were purchased. All 4 had long beautiful thick hair and helped each other with the comb out the tea tree oil application.
Shampoo was purchased for a mid-week wash, and the treatment repeated the following Saturday. Cleanliness including the washing and sunning of bedding was discussed, but it will be challenging since only 1 had a pillow and the heavy woven wool blankets are a challenge to wash and need drying time in the sun.
The CdA sales booth was among the fruit booths of the Huancarani weavers. All had brought in chirimoyas, avocados, and mandarins harvested from the lowest elevations in Huancarani along the river. Doña Máxima sold 2 small ch’upsas at greatly reduced prices, 1 wallet, and 1 key ring. We haven´t bothered with a booth the past few years because the weavings don´t sell locally. But, the weavers observed our effort and we were able to offer the chicas a sales experience, which is a great starting point for future project ideas. Dorinda Dutcher, May 14, 2015