Saturday, December 1, 2012

"How Ecuador Made My Dream Income Happen"


"How Ecuador Made My Dream Income Happen"
By Alison Talbert
Dining al fresco in the sunshine, relishing my lunch of warm homemade tortillas stuffed with tender chicken, ripe avocado and juicy tomatoes, I couldn't help but smile.
It felt so good to be back in Ecuador—one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The weather is fantastic...the culture is fascinating...and the people are just lovely.
Two days earlier, my husband and I had arrived in the Ecuadorian town of Cotacachi for a buying trip. As an importer of unique, handcrafted products from Ecuador, I travel back and forth quite a bit to check out the latest merchandise and to place new orders.
With the holidays rapidly approaching, I needed plenty of inventory for the prime shopping season. After a full breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs made to order, bacon, homemade toast and jam and hot tea, we set out for a village known for its highly skilled weavers.

For generations, these artisans have created everything from sweaters to hats to scarves...you name it. If it's woven, they can make it. I had the privilege of visiting the home of the gentleman who is, in essence, the head of what I would loosely call the village's weaving association.
He warmly welcomed me and showed me the old-fashioned hand loom that he uses to make hats and scarves. He breezed through a quick demonstration of the process for me. It was so effortless for him that he looked like he could probably weave in his sleep.
I fell in love with some children's hats the artisan showed me. I could just picture parents and grandparents alike clamoring for hats depicting frogs, lambs, owls, and monkeys. Made from soft wool and beautifully lined with cotton, these would definitely be a hit. I knew I could pay the artisans a very fair price while still maintaining a great profit margin.
Since I was considering placing a large order, I questioned his ability to produce the quantity I requested in a reasonable timeframe. He assured me that he could deliver on time. Since most of the folks in the village are talented weavers, if someone in the town receives a large order then everyone pitches in to fulfill it.
The rest of the trip was spent visiting leather workshops, jewelry studios, scarf factories, even a woodworker's shop. We placed orders and I was able to source some of my original designs.
I adore the idea of providing work for an entire village while delivering beautiful products to people who will truly appreciate the quality and craftsmanship. At the end of the day, this is why I do what I do. It's fun, it's profitable, and it helps the people of Ecuador. What's not to love?