I had lived in bustling, multicultural London for 4 years before that, met my Colombian boyfriend then moved with him in March 2011 to his tiny 3,000 people village, isolated in the Andes mountains an hour drive from civilization. On a tourist visa, I couldn’t work, and there was nowhere for me to find work there anyway.
I started learning Spanish and took a class on how to make crafts from a material called guadua, which is similar to bamboo. When the class ended, to fill my days, I started to experiment with making jewelry.
At the same time, I was introduced to a bunch of different creative people who worked with guadua as well as fique – a material that comes from a plant in the pineapple family. I was invited to watch the whole process of how the plant evolves into a beautiful handbag. (photos here: madeinmogotes.wordpress.
I realized there was an opportunity there, to share their work and talent abroad and to help supplement their incomes as many of them work menial farm jobs or live up in the mountains surrounding the village without the comforts we take advantage of in developed countries – like nice homes, paved roads, hot showers and internet.
So I’m spreading the word now about their talents and starting relationships with more and more creative people in the village who have something to offer but not the English language or internet access to promote it.
Everything in the shop is handmade in Mogotes, Colombia and each piece is one of a kind. There’s photos of the fique and guadua processes as well as some of the artisans on my blog, madeinmogotes.wordpress.
Please feel free to stop by, or find us on Facebook in the month of September for a 10% discount: www.facebook.com/