As you probably know, my travels helped shape this business into what it is today: a resource that lifts up the lives of global artisans and their communities. Our newest collection from Colombia was inspired by the Rainbow River in Colombia. Known as the Caño Cristales, it reflects brilliant colors from the finicky aquatic plant called macarenia clavigera.
During certain months, this plant can take on bright hues from pale to hot pinks, reds to maroons, bright greens, blues, yellows and oranges. The artisans who produce this newest collection have taken their inspiration from these colors to produce wares, fabrics, and now the beautiful bracelets of the Colombia collection. Chaquiries that were once used in ceremonies are turned into beads and woven into intricate designs in these bracelets.
Sadly, these artisans are currently in exile from their ancestral site as guerilla and paramilitary forces seek to recruit women and young men into joining insurgent groups.
Here is one of many stories from our Colombian artisans:
“I want to tell you that our project began 10 years ago, with indigenous communities in upper Putumayo. We used to collect chaquiras deep in the jungle to sell them in medicine ceremonies, then we incorporated communities from other regions, such as the Wayuu who weave backpacks and now the Embera.
I really feel very excited for the communities, that these crafts are in such a beautiful and conscious project where they are given the recognition they deserve.
Thank you for making us part of this beautiful project, Love Is Project!”
And even more about our the lives of these artisans:
The handicrafts that we sell are from artisans, who have come to the city for different reasons; most, if not all, of them have dramatic stories that show us the situation of abandonment to which our indigenous peoples are subjected by corrupt politics and the war that exists in our country.
Far from wanting to generate a feeling of pity, what we want is for these families not to resort to becoming homeless, but to open up spaces for them to sell their beautiful works of art
Meet Chemita and Heriberto Chami, an indegenous couple from the community 'embera chami.' Artisans by trade, they learned their skills from a line of grandparents that spans over 5 generations. Their ancestors made ceramic beads in the past.
They are in the capital city for various reasons, one of whom is their son. He is currently hospitalized as he was diagnosed with leishmaniasis. Their other four children had to be left in the care of their grandparents. While their son recovers, the Chamis make and sell artisan beads. Most of the money they earn is sent back home to their family in a community that is 25 hours away by bus.
The Chamis wish to return back home, and to be reunited with the family they left behind, but they know that once home, they won't be able to sell as much of their artesanal products as in the city.
This is Mila, she is 20 years old and has 3 children aged five, three, and one. She came with her husband and two brothers who both have three children each. They all had to leave their communities, fleeing from the guerrilla and paramilitaries who harass the women and young men into joining the insurgent groups. They had no choice but to flee, or else they would have had to give a child over to the fighting lines. They are accustomed to raising the children all together in the community and unused to living in the outskirts of a ‘big city.’
They wish to return to their family and their lands. It is these lands that they live off of, the fields, and nature. The city is definitely not a welcoming experience, however they endure it because they need the opportunity to sell their work.
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