Meet the Artisans

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

papaturro coop 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

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.

Alabi Recycling

Alabi Recycling 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.

Francisco Rodas

Francisco Rodas 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.

Taller Jaragua

Taller Jaragua 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

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

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.

Neuva Creacion

Neuva Creacion 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.

La Mora Jicambu

La Mora Jicambu This coop rests on the side of a back road which leads to one of the most beautiful cities in El Salvador-Suchitoto. The small town here has allowed the young women to use the community center to work on their crafts and create unique jewelry from nature. One of their most popular seeds comes from the mora plant, but they also use pacun and tagua.

These young women were only babies when the civil war ended, but they are still living with the legacy of that terrible period. They are working to establish their own independence in a new democracy and are excited about selling their products in the United States. It is on women like this that the future of the country depends.

Taller de Guatajiagua

Taller de Guatajiagua This coop is located far to the east of San Salvador, and consists of over 15 independent artisans working with black clay. They produce many beautiful items from the earth on the riverbanks in their village, and one of these artisans was chosen to present Hillary Clinton with a work when the Secretary of State attended the inauguration of the new President of El Salvador in 2009. Our artisan, Evelyn Martinez, takes this clay and combines it with scales obtained from local fishermen on the coast. The extra income helps support her and her three children. She hopes that they will have a better life through sales of these fun and unique jewelry pieces that she created with the help of her coop.

Women's Sewing Coop in Teosinte

Women's Sewing Coop in Teosinte This wonderful group of women is located in the small rural town of Teosinte. They put their talents to use by working on foot-pedal operated sewing machines. The building in which they work has been without electricity for over a decade, and they don't seem to mind. Everything that they create is definitely "off the grid." Teosinte was founded over 20 years ago by refugees returning from Honduras after the peace accords ending the civil war were signed. The history of this group goes back a long way, and the ties that bind these women is strong. Each year, they prepare an elaborate feast celebrating the founding of their town, and the beginning of peace in El Salvador.

Taller of Guarjila

Taller of Guarjila Guarjila is nestled in the hills of Chalatenango and means "beautiful little corner." It is one of the older towns in the area, although much of it was abandoned during the civil war. Many of today's inhabitants were re-settlers from the Mesa Grande refugee camp in Honduras. They began arriving in the late 1980's. Today, a group of talented and ambitious artisans work in the town creating embroidered products such as our handbags. They are working transform this abandoned town of the civil war into a vibrant community. Although much still needs to be done, the proceeds of their work are helping to make Guarjila once again a good place to live.

Coop at El Mosote

Coop at El Mosote El Mosote is located in the eastern district of Morazan. This is an area where the guerillas enjoyed strong support from local villagers during the 1980's, and where the army committed many of their atrocities during the civil war. In the center of El Mosote stands a monument to one of the worst of those atrocities where over 900 civilians from the region were murdered. The women operate a visitor's booth at this monument where they sell local products and handcrafted items. Handbags woven from the dried fibers of a local plant, the maguey, are one of their specialties, along with jewelry from seeds. Together, they are keeping the memory of the El Mosote massacre alive while cultivating a better future for their children.

Teshutik

Teshutik This group of women would impress even the most casual visitor. El Salvadoran artisans have long been known for making beautiful products from the bounty of nature, but these women have perfected their craft using a variety of natural dyes in wonderful and creative ways. These natural dyes require a long process, extending the production cycle well beyond three weeks to fully cure. Some of the ingredients used are teak and almond leaves plus rust from discarded metal parts. By combining these with a milk solution, and repeating the process multiple times, a wonderful pattern is created. They are constantly looking for new ingredients to produce different colors. It's always exciting to visit them to discuss their most recent projects and ideas.

Tierra Azul

Tierra Azul The fresh modern face of El Salvador can be seen in the smile of Lourdes Mena of Tierra Azul. Working from her store located on a busy street in San Salvador, Lourdes is always thinking of new designs and products to help El Salvador and her people. One idea was a handbag made of plastic bags gathered from the littered streets of the capital, cleaned and woven into natural fabric. Lourdes has a wide network of artisans with whom she works, and welcomes their ideas as well. One thought that is being considered is a contest to see which village can collect the most plastic bags which will not only supply her with material, but help clean up a littered landscape. It is on this innovative spirit that the future on the country rests.

Alma de Anil

Alma de Anill This group takes its name from the Spanish word for indigo, Anil, and the woman who heads it, Alma. Indigo was one of the major crops in El Salvador before the introduction of artificial dyes in the late 19th century when the entire economy began to collapse and switch to coffee. Today, there's a resurgence in indigo, and Alma is one of the leaders. Growing their own plants on a farm outside the provincial city of Santa Ana, Alma has obtained organic certification from BCS Oko-Garantie which is a leading certifier for Western Europe and Latin America. Utilizing techniques that date back to before the Spanish conquistadors, Alma dyes her fabrics into exciting patterns to produce a line of beautiful handbags.

Jovenes Esperanza

Jovenes Esperanza The name means "young hope" in Spanish, the phrase certainly captures the spirit of this coop. These women reside around the capital city of San Salvador and work together to create jewelry from any material which they can find--either from nature or recycled items. The extra income they generate can make a big difference in their lives. Jovenes Esperanza is typical of El Salvadoran coops that form when a group of women gather to discuss ways to make a living wage and a better future for their children. Through the efforts of our local contact within the country, Revy works with coops like this to develop jewelry which appeals to the U.S. market.

29475 Edgedale Road  |  Cleveland, Ohio 44124  |  Phone: (216) 765-8117  |  Fax: (216) 803-2031  |  inquiries@revydirect.com