The foundation of GuaTela’s partnership with women artisan cooperatives is based on fair trade principles. This is operationalized through the GuaTela Fair Trade Premium - an additional cash bonus, which is a percentage premium over and above the prevailing market price, paid promptly and upfront at the end of each order completion. The GuaTela Fair Trade Premium is thus directly linked to increasing annual incomes of women artisan and their families, leading to improved health and education outcomes, lower poverty rates and therefore enhanced living conditions of these communities.
Our cooperation with the women weavers’ cooperatives strictly excludes intermediaries. We consistently encourage the participation of all members of these communities. We hold meetings and discuss with the entire group of artisans on a regular basis, especially when we discuss new products, orders or payments. We expect the leaders of the partnering communities to embrace the same standards and we insist on the artisans to represent themselves during every step of our collaboration and to share their concerns and ideas.
We assist the women weavers in identifying the right strategy and pace for their organization’s development. Including the women artisans in the decision-making process of our social enterprise is one of our main long-term goals. Offering tailored trainings to our partners is crucial in preparing them to assume a greater and more influential role in our activities.
The creation of the market-ready products is a process in which both GuaTela and the artisans are involved. We do not alter the creative process and we encourage the artisans to preserve their traditional colors and patterns. Our direct involvement starts before the production process begins. We are there when threads are dyed, we discuss colors and patterns, but we also provide constant feedback regarding product quality in order to help the artisans improve their work, reduce loses, increase their efficiency and protect the environment.
Protecting the environment and reducing waste are important parts of GuaTela’s standards. We encourage the partnering communities to use natural dyes in their work thus increasing their awareness about the negative effects some of the weaving practices could have on the environment.
While using upcycled fabrics has become a fashion trend, GuaTela works together with the women artisans to identify only those vintage pieces that could no longer be used and only then incorporate them in new products. We believe that pressuring the communities to sell their vintage fabrics provides limited and unreliable gains while undermining the identification of a sound strategy towards sustainable human development.