Artisans navigating through COVID

Posted by Efi Guzman on

Let me share a story with you…

All of our lives have changed one way or another with COVID. We've had to make changes and adjust to the new “normal”. Many small businesses also had to adjust. Some closed and many are trying to stay afloat. It’s a challenging time for many. 

With all of this being said, have you ever wondered or considered how the pandemic impacts artisans? Of course, we can assume that they are also having a hard time, but I’d like to share a real story with you from Doña Victoria, my partner who makes embroidered artesanias.

I met her during the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve had casual conversations about COVID, but about a year into the pandemic, she shared more about how it impacts her daily life. 

Doña Victoria has a small stand in Morelia, Michoacán. She travels about 5 hours from her hometown every weekend to set up in Morelia. The local government has designated a plaza in Morelia for artisans to sell their products. They are strictly forbidden to sell outside that plaza. 



During a product pickup, we started chatting, as we always do. I asked her how business was for her and she said “la gente no esta comprando” (people are not buying). People have told her, money is tight because of the pandemic. Many are not buying leisure items right now and that’s taking a toll on her sales.

When sales are really bad, Doña Victoria is forced to go outside the plaza to sell her products. She knows it’s prohibited, but has a family to feed and needs to do what’s best. The main plaza has more foot traffic and she has a better chance of selling her products. When she goes to the main square, she needs to blend in with the crowd so she dresses in “normal clothes'' and not her traditional attire (which to her, is normal). A few artesanias are placed in a black plastic bag and she hides them under her clothes.

She needs to be discreet, if not, the police will take her artesanias. When selling artesanias in “normal clothes”, people question her indignity. To them, she does not “look the part”. I was in complete shock. She is questioned by strangers because she does not “look” or “dress” indigenous and is pressured to prove her identity. Could you imagine changing who you are, just to sell what you have?



Her artesanias are her livelihood. Having that financial stress and constant micro-aggressions and discrimination are a heavy burden to carry. My heart breaks for her. Her stand is located in a plaza that is not well known by tourists. The government designated a temporary space for artisans, but that is it. There is no effort to inform the tourists of the plaza. The artisans wait until tourists stumble across the plaza in hopes to sell their artesanias. 



 Artisans do amazing work and many face repeated challenges. The pandemic has made it worse. I encourage you to buy from artisans and don’t barter or allow them to drop the price for you. Pay what is fair and just. 

Our hope for the future is that Doña Victoria won’t have to travel so far away from her home to sell her products. We strive to provide our artisans with fair working conditions and resources. Step one to doing so is supplying them with a reliable source of income. Doña Victoria is one of the many artisans that we strive to complete this mission for!

Consider supporting her by purchasing from her collection! Remember that every purchase made helps her to show up in her truest form!

You can do so by clicking here.





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