9,000+ exhibitors, 4 days and products ranging from mini staplers to soaps to handwoven Peruvian textiles. Can you guess where Threads of Peru was visiting last week? Maybe we’ve made it too easy!
We took on the Big Apple and the NY NOW international trade show by storm, getting ready for when our team will also join the ranks of exhibitors. We knew that we were in for a whirlwind education and what a privilege it would be to learn from partners and event staff – special thanks to By Hand Consulting and the Artisan Resource division! And because not everyone has such an opportunity, we’d like to share a shortlist with our friends and followers of the 4 most important lessons we learned. Get ready for “Artisan Resource 101”!
Long term and reliable partnerships are invaluable in a world when the Internet has the ability to cloud our perception of authenticity and consciousness. Think about it. The internet lends credibility to many credible projects. It also does the same for less than credible projects. As sellers, we hope to cultivate relationships that will continue to support our artisans in the long term, but the coin is most definitely double sided. Buyers not only seek quick followup and clear communication but also the “faces” (i.e. real people) of artisan products. We all win by committing to personability and professionalism!
One of the highlights of our trip was meeting our client of now many years, Cecilia Gallery. Michael Fleisch (founder) explains to Dana how our baby alpaca straps are combined with Argentinian cowhide leather. And exquisite product!
- Producing artisan made products, not to mention in developing countries is HARD, plain and simple. But it’s not a walk in the park for the importer either.Despite their commitment to fair trade and all of its integral parts, for example longer lead times, importers are also working under strict regulations to be able to sell your product in their home countries. Once again, that’s where reliability and clear communication could not be more important. Rain washed out the road? Let them know! Short on the order for quality control issues? Definitely let them know! Know what they’re required to comply with – customs, deadlines – in addition to your own responsibilities to make the process smoother and to be more competitive.
Always fashionable and trade show pros, we paid frequent visits to the ladies at the Awamaki booth, joining them in proudly representing Andean textiles in NYC!
- Your story, no matter how many stories are being told, is IMPORTANT and is the reason that worthy men and women have been given an opportunity to work their way toward a better future.Put it out there, loudly and without fear of who’s listening (or who’s not)! Be strategic in expressing your purpose, making it readily available and easy to connect with. Improve and expand your online presence. There are thousands of worthy causes in the world but we should not lose sight of the role we each play, nomatter how small. Without our efforts, there are talented artisans worldwide that would be without work, and that deserves a shout!
We fought off the bitter cold with lots of joking around! Dana and Meredith laugh together while waiting for the bus outside of the Javits Convention Center. After all, it can’t be ALL work right?
- We’re all just figuring it out! There is usually no blue print for being successful in small-scale development initiatives. There certainly isn’t in Cusco! And we’ve found that even those with the most experience in their respective corners of the world still face daily challenges such as how to adapt their products to market trends or offer competitive prices that also cover their costs. The beauty is that there we have strength in numbers! By sharing our experiences and lessons learned among this family of likeminded entrepreneurs, we are contributing to the success of fair trade organizations around the world.
– Dana Blair, Operations Manager, Threads of Peru