The craft project began during the early 1990’s to provide employment for the women and to help fund the Growth Monitoring program. Initially, the project more than doubled its sales each year, and in 2001, UPAVIM won the Best Exporter in the Handicrafts Sector from AGEXPRONT, a national trade organization. We produce hair accessories, jewelry, holiday ornaments, nativities, clerical stoles, baby products, kitchen accessories, pet products, kids toys, a large assortment of bags, wallets, and more.
We also buy products from other organizations in Guatemala. This helps us expand our line and in turn helps other producers reach a U.S. market and get a fiar price for their hand-work. These groups include Sharing the Dream, an indigenous cooperative in Santiago Atitlan that produces beaded jewelry (their sales help fund an Elder’s Center), MayaKe – pottery, Chonita – beaded jewelry, and Proyecto Eco-Quetzal in Coban, an NGO that works with indigenous families to find environmentally sustainable income sources, such as the production of natural candles. UPAVIM also buys from indigenous artisan families in Chinautla who make clay products, Ruth y Nohemí, a widows cooperative in Chichcastenango, and Pilandros, a family business making candles. UPAVIM practices fair trade business practices with all of these organizations, buying their goods at above-market prices and insuring that each organization is paying their workers fair wages.
UPAVIM is a member of the Fair Trade Federation which is an Alternative Trade Organization in the United States promoting fair trade in Canada and the US. www.fairtradefederation.org We have sent representatives from Guatemala and the US to many of their conferences over the years.
UPAVIM maintains an inventory of products in the United States which are sold to fair-trade and other retailers, individuals, churches, and peace and social justice groups in the US, and Canada mainly. UPAVIM has shipped products to many other countries such as the UK, Ireland, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Germany, and more. We also have a retail website in the USA. People can register on the site to become wholesale customers and view wholesale pricing. www.upavimcrafts.org The distribution work is done by an independent contractor we hired over 19 yrs ago, Mary Joan Ferrara-Marsland and is based just outside of Washington, DC in the rolling countryside of Maryland. We also ship direct from Guatemala to larger wholesale customers such as Oxfam, Australia and Ten Thousand Villages US and Canada.
Since the second year of the program, funds from handicraft sales have paid for 100% of the expenses of the school and day care, and currently subsidize the medical clinic. The crafts project has not only sustained itself, but we have bought new industrial sewing machines and we hope to expand production when we have more space in the Annex.
Each year we add new products to our list. We also do special orders. In the past, we have made numerous conference bags including Bags for the Presbyterian World conference, a World Archaeological Conference, the Handweavers Guild of Americas Conference, Convergence, La Leche League International and more. We are always open to suggestions and ideas from our friends, so if you have a product idea, let us know!