Starting the knitting group came with its own set of challenges but they were dealt with one by one by the motivated members. The group started with much enthusiasm only to discover that half of the women did not know how to knit and the rest did not feel confident to teach. In addition, there was the issue of literacy which impeded the reading of instructions and then for some who were Quechua speakers the understanding of Spanish instructions. Looking back, we all remember how the women would sit in four separate corners, lacking the trust and custom to intermingle with others from other areas.

 

Profesora Berta

Organizing the products

The following year a search went out for a teacher. We were fortunate to find Profesora Berta who brought not only fantastic knitting and craft skills but her calm ability to communicate in Quechua and have needed patience with women. Interaction and sharing came quickly as they were excited to learn new designs and natural dying. Quality control, sizing, finishing and consistency are ongoing issues as the women continue to learn the importance of providing a well-produced product.

 

Taking steps to manage a business, a natural transition came with the need for direction and formalisation. First the group voted in a “Directiva”, a President, Treasurer and Secretary. Andean Alliance assisted in the process of legalizing the group with the public registry and subsequent additional registries with artisan associations. Another step was marketing, pricing and where to sell their product. This included working with the women on how to sell and what materials they needed to promote and to record sales. They learned how to have an inventory, to make what was popular of their designs and to try new designs and dyes.

Selling at first fair

The Club de Mujeres is an example of a successful group which continues to develop because of not only the product they have and their interest but additionally long term planning and goal setting. There has been notable changes and developments within the group; how they work together, take on responsibilities, individual sense of pride connected to their work, increased income for the family and sharing knowledge and products.

 

 
 

Although the group still requires assistance with promotional and marketing materials, and some organizational aspects, they have shown that a common need, trust and forward thinking can make a change for women when there may be little around to offer rural women this opportunity.

The Club de Mujeres sell their products to the public from the Yurac Yacu Community Center from June to September when the Café is open. With an advance phone call they will open their room to show and sell their goods. In Huaraz they have their products at a few locations. The next possible step to take may be selling online.

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