A New Opportunity for Committed Artisans

November 23, 2023

A New Opportunity for Committed Artisans

During our meeting with the Colibri (Hummingbird) Artisan group in San Francisco, I shared my excitement about Amazon Ecology’s growing wholesale market for bird ornaments in places like the National Aviary and Wild Birds Unlimited stores and that Yully, and I had come to discuss ways to work with them to tap it.

Artisan Wenceslao from San Francisco with woven chambira bluejay 

We first went through the list of 25 birds that we regularly sell and agreed on which prices would stay the same and which ones would get a higher price if they were more complicated. We next presented our idea of forming a special group of artisans who would receive extra benefits if they sold us at least 200 quality crafts every 6 months and became an artisan facilitator. They would receive basic equipment (pliers, scissors, etc.) once a year, ready access to materials used to make crafts (wire, dye, etc.) we could buy in bulk, receive a bonus of food staples for every 200 crafts we bought from them, and a chance to participate in a savings program. We would finance these benefits through a part of our craft sales.

 Artisan with woven chambira belted kingfisher

Yully and I were very happy almost all of them wanted to join this group. We then placed orders for our holiday sales, and the new incentives clearly encouraged them to increase their commitments.

After Yully paid several artisans for crafts they delivered for current orders, I took photos of them in a patch of shade under a nearby tree.

 Yully paying artisan for woven chambira bird ornaments

While leaving the village, we saw the power of the river which had reclaimed 20 feet of a saturated hillside in one night. Boat owners had fortunately secured their crafts with ropes staked higher up, but they did have to dig them out of heavy mud.

 Landslide by the Maranon River at San Francisco

Yully and I next went on to Amazonas where we enjoyed some grilled chicken at a fundraiser for an aquaculture project and briefly met with the Palosangre group of artisans. They appreciated that our new program could really help artisans, but many were concerned they couldn’t make so many ornaments with the quality we needed. We assured them we could organize more workshops to help people who wanted to meet this commitment.

Artisan Wilder with woven chambira scarlet macaw ornament

We returned to Nauta in an open boat driven by an artisan from San Francisco along with an Amazonas artisan and her four children. When I saw her struggling to shade her baby and two young daughters from the strong sun with a towel, I loaned her a bigger poncho and put my two baseball caps onto one uncovered daughter next to her and her son sitting behind me.

Motor boat for travel between Nauta and Maranon River communities

We then took a motorcar from the Nauta port to the Jaen station where we got the last two seats to fill the next van leaving for Iquitos. There is admittedly little adventure left in such journeys. I scrunched up in a middle seat and did my best to listen to a Netflix program over my headphones to try and escape the inevitable pop music being blasted into the cabin. Yully and I returned to our respective homes quite weary but content with a successful two day trip to the Maranon.

 Abby the cat at Amazon Ecology house in Iquitos 

Our cat Abby welcomed me home.

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