ATA conducted its annual Market Readiness Program from August 19-22, 2017 bringing 20 entrepreneurs representing 13 countries, bringing together the best of East and West. With a team of seasoned ATA consultants and mentors, participants were introduced to key elements for entering the US market. This intensive program was a solid platform in providing training on production, quality control, sales, marketing, color and trend, social media marketing to buyers relationship, ready to take their enterprise to a new level of global business.
Anna Malone, Marketing and Outreach, Yorktown, Virginia: Anna represented Yabal Handcrafts, a social enterprise, focused on sustainable fashion that partners with indigenous women’s weaving cooperatives in Guatemala, providing them with the opportunity to sell their hand-woven products through local and international markets. Having volunteered with Yabal in Guatemala, where her duties included market research and outreach, to try and expand sales. Anna is about to start a business creating an online platform to link designers and creatives, seeking custom made, Fair Trade textiles.
Alana Davicino, Program Specialist, Workforce Development and Youth, Creative Associates, Washington, DC: By attending the MRP, Alana wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of the international artisan sector, and to ultimately use this knowledge to inform current and future artisan-related and export-related project activities at Creative Associates.
Catherine Rocheford, Catherine Rocheford Designs, St. Michaels, Barbados: As a representative of the Network of Artisans in Tourism for the Greater Caribbean, Catherine has long been active in the artisan sector. She is the founder of the Barbados Artisan and Heritage festival, an event featuring the best of local artisans. This experience, inspired her to develop her own business. At the MRP she hoped to advance her knowledge of the requirements and expectation of the US retail market as well as have her products evaluated by industry specialists.
Dana Baugh, BAUGHaus Design Studio, Westmoreland, Jamaica: As a Parsons graduate, Dana has a special interest in blending modern aesthetics with the “roots & culture” of the Caribbean. In a true expression of Tropical Modern, her studio creates ceramics, lighting, furniture and soft goods for the home. At the MRP she seeked to learn how to develop a more targeted approach to product development and to network for further growth in her business.
Elisha Chan, Founder, Elisha C, Los Angeles, CA: Elisha C is an ethical brand and a social enterprise with the vision of a poverty-free world. Currently working in Haiti with artisan groups producing a wide range of products ranging from food to home décor and fashion accessories, Elisha C offers educational scholarships, healthcare initiatives and entrepreneurial support to launch micro-enterprises. At the MRP she hoped to learn more about extending her market reach, aligning her products with her target market and to learn more through networking with others in the artisan sector.
Fabrice Boscart, Shanghai, China: Fabrice is in the process of developing a company specifically to import and distribute artisan made products. His passion for this project comes from his appreciation for the artisan work he has seen worldwide and which he views as under-represented in the retail market. He attended the MRP to learn how to work with artisan groups, to learn about market trends and to network with like-minded individuals in the industry.
Jane Taylor, Owner, Collaborative Craft Projects with the Safari Collection, Harare, Zimbabwe: This collective specializes in all forms of woven basketry for both function and fashion. Working with a variety of artisan groups, the collective also represents artisans who work in wood, cow horn and accessory furniture pieces. However, operating with limited resources and a small marketplace, Jane hoped to working with like-minded entrepreneurs attending the MRP as well as learning more about market trends and how to gain traction in the US retail market.
Kendal Troutman, Owner, The Purple Shoe Project, Los Angeles, CA: Kendall is currently working with Artisans in Rwanda, Bali and Grenada. She buys Fair Trade and sells in the United States. Working almost exclusively in textiles handbags, travel bags, some home goods, she attended the MRP to better understand the best way to grow her business and move up to the next level.
Lalaina Raharindimby, Director of Women’s’ Programs, SEPALI Madagascar, Maroansetra, Madagascar: SEPALI is a non-profit business working with farmers to grow natural materials such as wild silk and raffia to be used in making finished products in fashion and home décor. Most particularly, Lalaina’s goal was to learn how to make products as the artisans do so that she can better understand how to help the artisans manage their time around the family responsibilities and be more productive in their work.
Mamy Ratisimbaafy, Founder and Owner, SEPALI Madagascar, Maroansetra, Madagascar: As an entomologist, Mamy works to provide employment opportunities through environmentally grown natural materials, necessary for creating finished textile art and finished textile products. He wished to identify their target market for high quality goods as well as the fundamental logistics of exporting to US and European markets. His long term goal is to generate enough revenue to support the entire non-profit program through broader market access.
Marabella Silvano Guzman, Local Coordinator, Aid to Artisans, Chiapas, Mexico: As field promoter for this ATA project in Chiapas, Marabella works directly with the artisans at workshops and training opportunities. The groups work in textiles for home décor, fashion and table top, providing economic opportunities for women. To be more effective in her work, Marabella wanted to learn more about the opportunities for handmade goods in the US retail market.
Paola Martinez, Design Consultant, Aid to Artisans, Chiapas, Mexico: Paola works directly in field with artisans on coaching and product development. Their home décor products have already had early success in the US with home décor items and offer fashion accessories as well. Paola’s learning goal for the MRP was to improve the process of artisanal production and sustainable businesses by strengthening profitability and ethical practices.
Rachel Clement, Artisan and Owner, Rare Unique Jewels, Bridgetown, Barbados: For the past 13 years, Rachael has been creating unique jewelry from sea glass and various metals, selling in the local tourist market, at hotels and occasionally online. She would like to expand her business and technical skills in order to expand into the US market. By attending the MRP, Rachel intended to learn improved pricing and marketing skills, learn the expectation of the retail market for quality and design and to network with and learn from other artisans.
Samina Mahmud, Head of Design, Indus Heritage Trust, Islamabad, Pakistan: Indus Heritage Trust is involved in training and marketing products produced by local artisans. IHT largely produces home décor products using local cotton materials. Having worked with artisans for 30 years, promoting regional embroideries of Pakistan, she currently works directly with artisans, and would like to explore innovative ways to promote the artisan sector. At the MRP she hoped to gain understanding in the dynamics of the international market for handmade goods.
Shanika Grimes, Artist and Designer, Artist Made, Bridgetown, Barbados: Artist Made is a young and progressive company which seeks to have maximum reach in marketing and producing high quality handmade products. Shanika is a young and talented designer who is dynamic and proficient in supplying customized handmade bags with handmade painted accents. At the MRP, her goal was to better understand how to improve the design of her products and strengthen her marketing efforts.
Sheena Thorne, Business Development Officer, Barbados Investment & Development Corporation, Bridgetown, Barbados: In her role Sheena supports local artisans with strengthening or developing their business structure, product development, record keeping, costing, marketing and market entrance (local and export). Her relationship with artisans is very hands-on. By her participation in the MRP, Sheena’s goal was to get exposure to international developments and trends in the craft sector, a heightened appreciation for international standards and practices to better advise her clients and gain knowledge in areas of business management as it relates to artisans.
Siddiqua Malik, Chairperson, Indus Heritage Trust, Islamabad, Pakistan: Indus Heritage Trust, an NGO, was started in 2004 by dedicated professionals committed to preserving and promoting the heritage of Pakistan by supporting artisans by helping them enhance their livelihoods. Siddiqua implements all the field activities, keeping in close contact with the artisan communities. Through their efforts IHT hopes to portray a softer image, the true image, of Pakistan to the international community. As an exhibitor in the ATA Global Handmade Booth as well as an MRP participant Siddiqua hoped to get enough interest in Pakistan’s handmade embroidered products to attract orders.
Sonya Shannon, Malaika, Program Development Manager, North Bethesda, Maryland: The mission of Malaika is to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education. The focus of Sonya’s work has been to improve access to markets for artisan groups in Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo through capacity building interventions such market readiness workshops and product design and development training. Sonya attended the MRP to learn all that is needed to assist artisan groups to enter the US market such as current trends in handmade, product design and dev. principles, marketing, costing and pricing.
Ximena Gonzalez Fernandez, CEO, Nómades, Lima, Peru: Ximena’s social startup seeks to develop the handcraft market in Peru. Nomades was founded to highlight the commercial and as well as cultural value of Peruvian handicraft. With a focus on high quality fashion accessories and home décor, all products are designed recognizing the need to have positive impact on the environment while representing Peruvian identity. Seeking to innovate the current business model for handmade, Nomades is currently selling locally but their foremost goal is to enter the US retail market. During the MRP, Ximena was particularly interested in a greater understanding of the structure of the US market, distribution possibilities, market preferences and networking with like-minded artisan leadership.