The Artisan Co-operative Family

To encourage a group of artisans to band together while inspiring them to strive toward a common goal is something that requires both leadership and passion. Francisca Rosa Martins, otherwise known as Chica Rosa is a larger-than-life presence and has a tremendous energy to encourage women in her community to raise up their livelihood through work in handicrafts. We wanted to get her perspective on life and work in the cooperative.

ES: Hi Chica, when did you start working as an artisan?

Chica Rosa: I started in 2004

ES: When we started collaborating back then in 2004 we never imagined that these bags would end up all over the world. It still amazes us. How does that make you and the other artisans feel?

Chica: Well, first off it makes me sure to be careful to the details. It is exciting that these products are sold outside of the country. I feel that it's difficult to produce each item but I feel accomplished when I see the result of my work. To see the transformation not only of the material in a product so beautiful but also to see the ability of the women in this's fantastic! In this partnership the difficulties become insignificant compared to the great satisfaction that I feel. The result of our work is that we have created this great family.

ES: What has changed since you joined the project?

Chica: The income from the production has improved our lives, it's made many friends to feel happier than before. My life has changed thanks to the income that I have with this work. We produce as a group and I love it. We are a group! We learn from each other, sometimes we are students and sometimes we are teachers.

ES: What have you been able to do for your family recently?

Chica: I bought clothing for the kids and we made a trip together to have a good time. My family and I are always together. We have had the opportunity to travel, buy gifts. On one occasion, I traveled with some artisans. That was fantastic too.

ES: Anything else?

Chica: This partnership makes me very happy.

ES: Us too.

A Fair Trade Business: An Artisan's Perspective

With politics in utter chaos and so much bad news coming from Brazil we thought that it's important to underscore the fact that ordinary people in Brazil are extraordinarily resilient and still manage to survive and thrive.

Escama Studio has been working in Brazil with 65 artisans since 2004. Over that time we've made 200,000 bags and our products sell in 30 countries worldwide. From our perspective, this venture has been a great success: it's sustained us and we're proud of what we've accomplished. But we wanted to hear from the artisans what their experience has been over the past 12 years.

So today we interviewed one of the artisans, Angela Bezerra

Ethical Fashion from Escama Studio
ES: Hello Angela, when did you start working as an artisan making bags?
ANGELA: I started 10 years ago, in 2006.
ES: What feelings do you have when you make all of these items with your own hands?
ANGELA: I feel really good. I feel like I am important and useful and that I'm still active in the labor market at the age of 62. It's the kind of work that brings me well being. I'm always willing and I feel encouraged.
ES: How is the experience of working with a group of other women?
ANGELA: The contact with this group of women sharpens my creativity. I feel flattered when we deliver the finished pieces, they're very beautiful.
ES: We are selling to people all over the world, how does that make you feel?
ANGELA: To see the recycled material turn into a work of art created by my hands, appreciated by customers worldwide is something that brings me a lot of responsibility, but this doesn't translate into difficulties. I know that the reputation of our work comes down to commitment and dedication. That's what makes me infinitely responsible.
ES: What has changed since you joined this project?
ANGELA: The changes are numerous beyond just the financial aspects. It makes me feel good to talk about what I do, to my family, friends and community. I love to tell them that we export to the world and that we are connected with the current market. We are many women who help each other. We are an example in our community of strong and important women.
ES: What have you done or bought for your family recently?
ANGELA: I could buy some things for the home but the most important thing is to assist my husband and to give gifts to my children and grandchildren. It makes me feel very good about myself.
ES: Have you had a moment lately when you thought "I'm Really Happy"?
ANGELA: I love what I do every day!