Every August, the MRP brings together global entrepreneurs and artisans under one roof. We are please to introduce you to the 2016 Class.

CEO Sandler Trade, LLC Meredith Sandler’s work is fueled by her passion to make international trade thrive – especially with developing-country producers and U.S. artisans. Currently she is working with Timorese artisans who produce Tais weavings for ceremonial adornment, home decor, and personal apparel. Anna Rose Ott, Artisan and Small Business Specialist also representing Sandler Trade. Experienced in working with women artisans in Ghana, Anna is currently completing U.S. market access and identification research for women weaving collectives. Anna has a special interest in better understanding how artisans can most efficiently and sustainably access the U.S. market.

Paulina Elena Retamal Toledo, owner and designer, Paulina Elena Retamal Iturra E.I.R.L, Coyhaique, Chile started her clothing business as a way to use regional raw materials and generate work for small producers. Her colors represent the Patagonian landscape. At the MRP, her interest was to identify strengths and weaknesses of her products in preparation for a more demanding retail market.

Carolina Vergara, manager at Pura Pampa, a trained costume designer has extended her talents into the apparel accessory market. Specializing in wool fibers, her designs are contemporary, high quality and unique. She attended the MRP to learn the tools to expand her business locally and internationally.

Deepali Agrawal, General Manager at Export Bank of India, Mumbai, India (Exim) shared the Bank’s vision to support various crafts and art forms like Ikat, weaving, metal ware craft, embroidery and pottery from the Indian handicraft and handloom sector. Exim Bank seeks to help Indian exporting firms in their export efforts by proactively assisting in locating overseas buyers for their products and services.

Also representing Exim Bank was Veerbhadra Singh Janwar manager at the Bank. In addition to learning more about current trends and designs, Veerbhadra looks forward to the opportunity to meet potential importers and connect them directly to grassroots enterprises that are provided with finance and marketing assistance from the Exim bank.

General Manager of Manos Nicas Nicaragua, Franklin Sanchez aims to “sells crafts, giving an added value, quality controls, fair prices and support in designing and improving artisans products”. Franklin’s goal at the MRP was to understand the workings of the US market, assess viability of his products in the United States and learn from similar organizations who have been successful in the handicrafts sector.

Community Jameel in Saudi Arabia is a social enterprise operates initiatives in the artisan sector, including  Art Jameel, a traditional arts and crafts program in Cairo, Egypt, and House of Traditional Arts and Nafisa Shams Academy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. George Richards, Director of Strategy Development attended the MRP to better understand the process of helping Middle Eastern artisan access the export market.

Melanie Gaball, representative, Lumber and Linen, West lake Village, CA works with Mexican and Indian women in the Los Angeles area who create beautiful detailed embroidery. “I would like to provide them with outdoor performance thread and fabric so they can create these handmade designs for my niche -outdoor design. “I would love to work with more local artists and abroad. I am most interested in bringing handmade products to the outdoor decor marketplace here in US.”

Ingrid Soza, Director at Asesorias y Desarrollos S A, Esteli, Nicaragua  is a consultant to the artisan community. The artisans with whom she works produce products such as corn husk painting, pine baskets, stones sculpture, wood, recycle paper cards, and clay. Ingrid came to the MRP to become better informed “about how to create a successful market and products for sale and create a better profile of artisans in Nicaragua”.

Field Representative, Aid to Artisans, Chiapas, Mexico: Margarita Lopez Hernandez is an artisan, a weaving and embroidery specialist whose is responsible for training and successfully guiding quality control for her group. The group produces wonderful pillows, scarves, throws and table linens. Maria’s interest was to develop new designs ideas and gain fresh inspiration during the MRP.

The daughter of artisans, Maria del Pilar Altamirano, left her job as a computer engineer to join her family to create an organization of artisans exporting directly. Clothing Line Manager, Aptec Peru, Lima, Peru, Maria is deeply invested in working with artisans. “We are a group of 26 artisans-families that work different line of handicrafts and textiles. Basically the most important thing for us is to learn about the U.S. market; we want to know the type of B2B customers, how the end customers buy, how we can customize our products, trends, new business ways we could explore.”

Miguel Angel Hernandez Torres, a recent college graduate with a degree in foreign trade works with both national and international sales. With Miguel as a Marketing and Sales Coordinator, Aid to Artisans Chiapas, Mexico this particular young ATA project is already producing high quality weaving and embroidery products currently found in the U.S. retail market. During the MRP Miguel focused on broadening his knowledge of the craft sector and explore new market opportunities for these high quality artisan-made products.

Marissa Heyl, CEO, Symbology Clothing, Grapevine, Texas, built Symbology as an ethical lifestyle brand that collaborates with artisan women in developing countries to create handcrafted fashion forward designs. “I want to learn more about the wholesale market scene for artisan home decor, and meet with experts to help me expand our distribution channels nationwide and internationally.”

Paz Schwencke, represented  Paz Schwencke, Coyhaique, Chile: As an artist specializing in glazed copper, Paz’s business focus is related to art, design and craftsmanship, in an effort to create representative products of Chilean Patagonia through textures, shades and forms of the nature of the Aysen region. She attended the MRP to “learn and know about the international market, new trends, interact with exhibitors and to show work that is produced in the ”Chilean Patagonia” as well as explore export opportunities”.

Rikki Quintana, owner of Bridge to the Great Silk Road dba Hoon Arts, New Mexico is a newly retired lawyer, working with artisans in Tajikistan, Rikki founded this importing company, specializing in traditional artisan-made goods in textiles such a silk Ikat, as well as wood carving, ceramics and silver. Carefully growing the business, she works with up to 15 individual artisans or artisan workshops. She hopes to expand her business after getting the assessment and understanding the viability of her wares and create an opportunity to network with potential buyers.

Dokkan was born out of our passion and personal interest in making difference in people’s lives.  Working in Egyptian linen and cotton, each piece of their work tells a story, one enriched with a combination of contemporary and historic culture. Soheir Ghali, Co-Founder, Dokkan Crafts, Fairfield, VA says “We are working with NGO’s and local entrepreneurs in Egypt who want to develop their communities. We aim to sustainably empower impoverished artisans while appreciating the beauty of authentic Egyptian craftsmanship”

Silvia Toledo, represented Quillango and Coyhaique, Chile. Quillango Crafts prides itself on 100% handmade products created by means of using sheep and alpaca wool from their own farm in the Aysén Region (Chilean Patagonia). The process of production preserves techniques of spinning, dyeing and weaving on a hand crafted looms, embedding modern designs to produce exclusive garments. Silvia came to the MRP with a specific goal. “I hope to get the knowledge to improve production processes or techniques in products, that would meet the standards” of the US market.

Monica Perez Roulet, Owner, MPRart, Washington, D.C. is originally from Argentina and holds a degree is in graphic design. Her current business including graphic design involves fine art, working in paper, clay, glass and wood. She owned and operated a neon sign factory providing neon signs to beer and soda companies. This intense manual work also required skilled craftsmen and attention to high quality. She is currently interested in promoting Latin America crafts. Her interest in the MRP is to better understand sales, channels, import regulations, current market opportunities.

Varnita Kohli, Freelance Designer, Indigo Blossoms, McLean, VA attended the MRP to assess the demand and viability for products made of recycled cloth. Varnita works with marginalized women groups in India to provide them with a source of income through sales of products from leftover scraps of cloth from organic vegetable-dyed textiles such as cotton, silk and voile. The left-over scraps are used to make vibrant gift bags and tote bags reflecting traditional Indian motifs and colors. “I aim to understand how to tap the international market successively and gain an in depth understanding of the US retail market including quality and design.