The people of El Salvador are among the most generous and determined you'll find anywhere. Emerging from a civil war, they are striving to improve their daily lives and rebuild their ravaged country. Revy works with individuals and coops to help them earn a living wage and provide a brighter future for themselves and their children.
The Women's Coop in Papaturro
The Women in Papaturro have named their coop the 18th of March, which was an infamous date for their village. It was on this day during the civil war when government troops came into their village and gathered up some suspected rebels with their families. They were placed inside of a home and shot. The home was then burned to the ground.
These women now work hard to sustain their village and provide for their children while keeping the memory of their past alive. By gathering seeds, they create some fun and unique jewelry. Two of the most popular seeds include pacun and the Spanish flag. Your purchase of an item made by this coop helps support these women and the future of their children.
Las Tinecas Women's Artisan Group
Tinecas is a nickname for the women who live in San Martin where this group works. San Martin is adjacent to the capital city of San Salvador, and has attracted many gangs over the years. Some of these women were actually ex-gang members who are now working hard to support their children and provide them a better life.
Living in dirt-floor structures constructed of tin sheets supported with wooden poles cut from surrounding trees, they take pride in their homes and their work. Much of their material comes from scrapes found in the neighborhood such as old magazines which are converted into paper beads and made into fun and original jewelry. They are always thankful for any work that they receive.
Located in Santa Rosa less than an hour from the capital, Alabi Recycling works with various materials which all come from scrap. One of the most popular items are handbags made from recycled tires. These tires litter the roadsides and provide a means to breed mosquitoes that carry malaria. Removing these tires from the road helps the environment while creating a healthier El Salvador. Another scrap product put to good use comes from leather. These scraps--a by-product of traditional leather work--are ground up, and then processed in a method similar to paper making. They are then turned into bright and colorful handbags. They are sturdy and rugged, plus they help the environment by removing material that would otherwise go to waste.
While over 90% of our artisans are women, there are a few exceptions. One of them is Francisco Rodas who is one of the most creative individuals that we've ever worked with. Located on a busy side street of San Salvador, Francisco works from his home creating unique designs for us to sell. A warm and generous man, Francisco represents the new El Salvador. Emerging from the aftermath of a terrible civil war, individuals throughout the country are looking for ways to better themselves and help the country grow. We are proud to offer his unique designs to the U.S. market, and your purchase helps the innovative spirit of the new El Salvador.
This coop chose their name, Jaragua, to describe how they see their cooperative. It comes from a wild fast-spreading grass that is strong and resilient. Located in the town of Tonacatepeque, they live not far from the growing capital of San Salvador. Working primarily with coconuts to create purses and jewelry, they purchase all of their materials from other local family businesses to create a thriving support system. Taller Jaragua's mission goes well beyond earning a living wage. Education is one of their main objectives, and proceeds from their sales have enabled them to build a library with donated books. Classes are held in the alleyways of their urban location while still preserving their culture and dignity.
Susana Las Flores
This wonderful group of women meet in the town of San Jose Las Flores where they hand weave beautiful fabrics for different items including Revy handbags. Each thread is painstakingly prepared and then interwoven on vertical looms. Progress is measured in inches. These looms are actually large hand made frames, a design that has been around for thousands of years. The coop was originally founded in 1991. Today the older women are working with many of the younger women in the town to teach them this simple, time honored tradition. The art of hand weaving is certainly alive and well in San Jose Las Flores and will hopefully be passed down to many future generations.
Confecciones Isa and Elizabeth Hernandez
Sling bags are a concept somewhat alien to El Salvador where they just don't have that much "stuff" to carry around with them. Revy introduced this design to these two artisans for the U.S. market. Together, they were able to create beautiful, rugged bags to carry even the heaviest loads. Isa is located in the capital city of San Salvador while Elizabeth resides in the north near La Palma. Both have seen many changes in El Salvador during their lives, including a new government, a wealth of creative ideas, and a new spirit. Working out of a small shop in the back of their homes, the extra income generated by their sales promises a better future for everyone involved.
Located in the far northern town of St. Ignancio only a few miles from the Honduras border is this small, bustling workshop where items are crafted from wood. This group creates everything from simple boxes to inlaid, decorative calendars. From their door, one can look out at the mountains of Honduras where sanctuary was provided for tens of thousands of refugees during the war. Since El Salvador has been heavily deforested, much of the wood they use is brought in from Peru where sustainable forestry can be practiced. It is a sad legacy for El Salvador, with the highest population density in Central America, that they could not preserve more of their forests. Attempts are being made at re-growth, and we can only be optimistic.