San Martin, San Salvador

tinecas profile(Tinecas is a nickname for women from San Martin)

This group began in 1997 when a group of women in an impoverished community in San Martin decided they need to do something to provide a better quality of life for themselves and their families. They felt it was important to have a business that was specifically run by women. Many women in their community were idle in their houses because their husbands were supposedly providing for them.However, frequently their husband's income is not near enough. Also, there were single mothers that had been scrounging for work to support their kids. So when this group was formed, it was not only to provide financial support for themselves also to create a support network for each other. They pooled their skills and interests to come up with a unique variety of products that they could produce as an artisan group.

Women's Collective from the Tasajera Island in La Paz
Mujeres de la Isla Tasajera, Caserío la Colorada, San Luis la Herradura

gradtallersmall"Confecciones La Colorada" started in May 2010 by a small group of women living on Tasajera Island in La Paz. It began when a delegation of doctors from the United States came to visit. The island of Tasajera is very isolated, without cars and with limited socio-economic opportunities. One of the doctors taught the group of women some basic skills in cutting and preparing fabric. The women were inspired and eager for a new source of income. The delegation offered the capital to start up their business with enough money to buy material and a sewing machine. This resulted in four women creating stylish bags using traditional fabric from San Sebastian.

San Jose Las Flores, Chalatenengo

susana profileTaller Susana is a small but strong collective of women working out of the small town of San Jose Las Flores. In existence since 1991, the older women, masters of their craft, have brought in younger women from their town and are passing on their talents. The dedication of these women to their business is evident the quality of their work. Using a simple weaving technique on a large hand-made frame, the women produce traditional textiles known for both their beauty and their durability. The usefulness of their products is appealing to Salvadorans and thus many of their products are sold locally. However, this is not enough to support these women and their families.

San Salvador, San Salvador

sanramon profileFor members of this collective their workshop is much more than just a business. Their priority is creating a strong community that will support them in more than just a financial way. They offer an open community space, possibilities for collaboration between different kinds of artisans and a flexible work alternative. All these things allow for open creativity and cooperation between members.

Comasagua, La Libertad

La Ceiba, Chalatenango

nuevaesperanza profileThe name of this workshop is a perfect descriptor of what it is to the women who run it. It is their source of hope. Living in La Ceiba, a rural community outside ofChalatenango, El Salvador, there are few options for sources of income. Many families are just surviving. To change this, a group of five resourceful women decided to make their own option. There was one woman in the community who made beautiful pottery from clay that she extracted from the river that flows through the forest that surrounds their tiny community. These women decided there was potential in her pieces, but thought they could add something. They formed a group that would take her pottery in its various forms and add vibrant paintings and glazing, or turn it in to an object for use such as a candle or a wind chime.

Santiago Texacuangos, San Salvador

launion 1La Unión Coffee Co-operative began in 1972 with a strong belief in producing coffee without harming the environment. At its peak, La Unión had over 60 members but currently it this number has decreased to 35 - 29 men and 6 women.

Arriving at La Unión, one cannot help but notice the fantastic aroma wafting throughout the building. Alicia Morales Sanchez, a charismatic woman who held presidency of the co-operative until 2008 and has won various international awards for her work and for being the only woman at the head of a coffee co-operative in El Salvador, tells the history of La Unión.

Soyapango, San Salvador

jesusobrero profileJesús Obrero was started in February 1991 by six companions that were struggling to survive in the chaos of the Salvadoran Civil War. It would be another year until the peace accords would be signed and the country would begin to rebuild itself, but this group had already established something that would help them get back on their feet after living and fighting in a war zone for over ten years.

Tonacatepeque, San Salvador

jaragua 1

Taller Jaragua is one of a kind, and it's not just because of the unique natural creations they produce. The aims of this workshop go far beyond just making and selling products. As José Vásquez put it, "Estamos construyendo un sueño," "We are constructing a dream." This dream includes having a way to feed their families without being trapped in an oppressive capitalist system. It includes using their workshop as a forum for education. They hope to show Salvadorans and foreigners alike the creativity and beauty that can come out of El Salvador, from the people and the land alike. They hope to encourage people to support small businesses. They exemplify this by buying the bulk of their materials, all of their seeds and coconut shells, from other Salvadoran families.

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