Nancy and Carlos’ workshop

  Nancy and Carlos have been creating one-of-a-kind, Ecuadorian jewelry for Faire Collection since it was founded in 2008. They used to work in one small room in their mud brick house. Since working with Faire Collection they have completely remodeled their house, added a second floor and an open air workshop. Nancy and Carlos come from a line of artisans, and like their parents, they began working in handicrafts at a young age and spent most of their lives selling their wares in the local market. The couple used to struggle to make ends meet, but since creating trend-setting Ecuadorian jewelry for Faire Collection, they now enjoy a sense of ease knowing that they not only can provide for themselves, but also for their workers.  In addition to running a workshop for Faire Collection, the couple runs a storefront in Otavalo that they opened using revenue earned from Faire Collection. Faire Collection used to provide Andres, Nancy and Carlos’ son with educational scholarships.  He has now finished school and at 19, is working part time in his parents workshop as he takes time to think on his own career path. “It fills us with great pride to know that our work is appreciated throughout the world. Thank you for allowing us to make a living from our craft.” - Nancy

Artisan Bios

LEAD ARTISANS

Nancy “I can vividly remember the day I met Nancy during the summer of 2008. Walking through the colorful market stalls I was drawn in by her hospitality and warmth. Nancy is a critical part of the Faire Collection team!” – Amanda Judge, Founder & CEO  Nancy has been partnering with Faire Collection since it was founded in 2008. Since working with Faire Collection, she and her husband have greatly expanded and improved their home, as well as their home workshop. Nancy loves creating jewelry and managing the workshop. In addition to working with Faire Collection, she manages her own storefront in Otavalo.
Carlos With the support of Faire Collection’s training program, Carlos finished the Ecuadorian artisan qualification course in 2011, which teaches artisans how to manage and leverage their business, as well as providing them with special benefits such as lower taxes.

ASSISTANT ARTISANS

 
Hector Hector is a former Faire Collection scholarship recipient and was studying finance and computer science in high school. He joined Nancy & Carlos workshop in 2010 when he was 18.   In these past 6 years, the supportive environment created by Nancy and the other assistants has been critical in helping Hector undergo a remarkable transformation. When he first started, Hector was painfully shy and withdrawn, but now he's a great source of fun and energy in the workshop- fond of playing little practical jokes on the team during their breaks.Coming from a difficult family background, Hector is the sole provider for his household, despite being only 24 years old. He lives with his grandmother and works alongside his aunt and uncle, Yolanda and Roberto. Hector takes great pride in his cultural identity, both as an Ecuadorian and especially as a member of the indigenous Quichua people.
Yolanda & Roberto Prior to working at Nancy and Carlos’ workshop, Yolanda and her husband Roberto spent many years working in artisanal markets in the Galapagos.Faire Collection’s fair trade standards have allowed them to rely on a steady source of income. They have two daughters, Shirleen and Elizabeth.

Social Impact

Nancy and Carlos come from a line of artisans, and like their parents, they began working in handicrafts at a young age and spent most of their lives selling their wares in the local market. Since partnering with Faire Collection in 2008, Nancy and Carlos have been able to tap into the vastly larger, and more lucrative, international market. Access to the global market has had a profound effect on their workshop and quality of life. Prior to partnering with Faire Collection, there was little separation between Nancy and Carlos’ home and workshop. The dining room in their small, one-story home doubled as their workspace, leaving little room for their three children to study and play. They traveled to and from Otavalo to sell their jewelry at the daily market, where their customer base was limited, and sales unpredictable. In addition to working the market, Nancy tended to the home, cleaning and cooking all meals for Carlos and their three children. Cooking was mostly carried out over an open fire meaning a simple dinner would take hours to prepare. Meat was a delicacy, electricity was scarce, and their future was not secure. Creating fair trade jewelry for Faire Collection has enabled Nancy and Carlos to achieve a comfortable balance between work and home life. Since 2008, they have added an entire second floor to their home, which serves as a permanent workshop, separate from the family’s living space. Nancy and Carlos have provided their extended family income by hiring relatives to cook for their staff, which allows them to spend more time creating an effective workshop and a happy family. They now own a car, which has drastically cut down the time they spend commuting to and from town. Nancy is continuing to evolve both as an artisan and as a successful businesswoman. Her success at Faire Collection has also improved her relationship with Carlos, her husband. She is well respected both at home and in her community - she is the president of her neighborhood association. More importantly, because Nancy and Carlos can now rely on a steady stream of income, they can spend more time with their four children Keyli, Andres, Huayra, and baby Emanuel and plan for their futures. With the help of Faire Collection’s business trainings, Nancy opened her own successful storefront in the center of Otavalo in 2011. Nancy and Carlos’ dedication, along with Faire Collection’s social programs, has changed the lives of the assistant artisans as well. Assistant artisans Hector is a former Faire Collection scholarship recipients. Hector lives with his grandmother and is the sole provider for his household.

Açaí

Pronounced ah-sai-ee Açaí seeds come from the Açaí palm, Euterpe oleracea, which is found in the lush rainforests of South America. These trees grow predominantly in swamps and in floodplains, and reach heights of approximately 45 to 90 feet tall. Small dark purple berries grow in dense clusters on the palm, and each contains a single seed about 0.25–0.4 inches in diameter. The fruit is harvested for food, and is most often served as a beverage. It has gained global fame in recent years due to its high antioxidant and energizing properties. In addition, Açaí leaves are used to make various handicrafts, such as hats and baskets, and Açaí wood is often used in construction.

Pambil

Pronounced pam-beel Pambil seeds come from Iriartea corneto, one of the grandest palms of South America. As a canopy tree, it grows about 60 to 105 feet tall, but from the bottom appears much like the “walking tree,” Socratea exorrhiza, because of its stilt roots. The Pambil palm is an essential resource for the Quichua culture of Peru and Ecuador. Its wood is used for constructing houses, lances, bows, and blowpipes, and the leaves are woven into roofs of native huts. The Pambil palm’s fruit, approximately one inch in diameter, contains the seed that is used in the AC’s jewelry.

Tagua

Pronounced tahg-wah The Tagua nut grows from the Ecuadorian Ivory Palm, Phytelephas aequatorialis, or literally, “plant elephant,” and is commonly referred to as “vegetable ivory.” The medium-sized palm, reaching up to 60 feet tall, grows quickly and easily in shady, humid places hidden below larger trees. Tagua grows from regenerative pods, which emerge from the palms’ trunks. The pods are removed from the palm and the seeds are left to dry in the sun. The drying process for tagua, acai and pambil is weather dependent. In the dry season, the process lasts a few days to a week. During the rainy season it can take months for the seeds to dry to the point at which they can be used by the artisans.

Interviews & Testimonials

Nancy -“It fills us with great pride to know that our work is appreciated throughout the world. Thank you for allowing us to make a living from our craft.”  Anita -“Now I'm able to attend high school, which is the first step toward attaining my lifelong dream of traveling and learning other languages.”