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Shipping News! SUMMER 2019

Peggy Stein artesania authentic buying artesania catrina crafts folk art handmade Mexican Michoacan Ocumicho traditional

Shipping News! SUMMER 2019

Most often when I take the time to sit down to write about my business, it’s a rant or sad description of the latest calamity or indignity I’ve either witnessed or personally suffered. Some of you might know that I’ve been (slowly) writing a “memoir” with the working title “Why Importing Crafts from Mexico is Not for Wimps”. I also think that “Are you F**cking Kidding Me?” could work as a title also. But I just realized that I need to share good news too! In the summer of 2019, while the U.S. was continuing to be destroyed by a...

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Always Handmade and Authentic

Peggy Stein artesania authentic blouses crafts cultural appropriation handmade Mexican textiles traditional

Always Handmade and Authentic

There are a lot of tongues wagging, and rightfully so, about the cultural appropriation (ripping off) of traditional textile designs created by indigenous artisans in Mexico. I am angry and concerned, and you will most likely hear more from me about this subject. I'm also alarmed by what's happening in the Mexican crafts world in general, due to globalization and the power of commercial interests who could give a flying you-know-what about preserving or respecting anyone's cultural identity. While you as a customer can find more and more online shops professing to carry items "handmade in Mexico", beware that there is no...

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Butterflies and Baskets

Peggy Stein baskets butterflies crafts Michoacan migration monarch pine needle

Butterflies and Baskets

I recently made another visit to a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico. The good news is that the numbers of butterflies in Mexico increased in 2018 and the efforts of conservation appear to be working. But there is another story that the millions of tourists who visit the area each year don't see. Because of the prohibition on logging in the forests to protect the endangered butterflies, many of the indigenous people who live there have lost their livelihoods, and they are barely surviving. I spent several hours with a few artisans who weave beautiful pine needle baskets, not far from the butterfly sanctuaries.The sale of the baskets provides much needed income for families, and helps protect the butterflies.

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“How much does the artist get?”

Peggy Stein bargaining in Mexico buying artesania fair wage

“How much does the artist get?”

A clerk at Trader Joe’s just asked me if the artisan who made my blouse was paid a “fair wage”. A couple of weeks ago someone on our Facebook page asked if our workers are paid fairly. Leaving aside for the moment the question of what exactly is a “fair” wage (is it the minimum wage in Mexico which is currently about $5 US per day?) and how many workers in the U.S. or other countries actually receive a fair wage (are teachers paid a fair wage? how about the cooks in the restaurant you patronize?) let’s address the issue...

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Handmade-- endangered species?

Peggy Stein artesania blouses crafts handmade Michoacan rebozos textiles traditional

Handmade-- endangered species?

In indigenous communities in the poor state of Michoacán, there aren’t a lot of employment opportunities for women without much education. If a woman can work on a blouse or rebozo for a few hours a day while a pot of beans is cooking over the fire and she watches her children, that is something that can provide some income for her family. The traditional designs that have been passed down from mother to daughter represent their community and culture. If the demand for the work disappears, it would be a financial and spiritual loss for the women and their families.  

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