I enjoy my placement in the SEED project quite a lot. I work with several people, mainly a woman named Sonia and 2 extensionists that relay between the office and training in the field. There is much to be done in developing the arts and crafts sector, which is both great to be involved in deciding which direction the project will go, but it’s often very overwhelming. Where to begin? What’s already been started? Who do I need to talk to to get things moving? Is this even productive? What is the true capacity of the weavers and our training sessions?
The list goes on and on…
I get to work on all aspects of the development, from the business to the creative side. The pricing scale and business plan are not quite as fun as developing marketing products, such as appropriate sales tags that tell a bit about the Xindzala weavers and the baskets. I have yet to come up with a really sustainable way of developing marketing material that would be technically possible for others to continue once I am gone but also projects the image of the baskets as high-end artisan goods.
Because the baskets are made in the limited free time of rural female weavers and the quantity of products developed is not yet very high, and the price reflects that. They are rather expensive, perhaps not to most tourists, but definitely to locals. I have been responsible for setting up displays in the lobbies of several local hotels, as tourist season is about to peak for Christmas. The sales have been really encouraging, but now we don’t have enough stock to maintain the displays. The biggest challenge right now is getting the production quality and quantity up to par with the demand.
How do you simultaneously get poor people to spend their time producing something if there is no immediate fiscal reward? But then, if there is a market, how then do you get a retailer to sell your goods if you can’t guarantee your production?
Ooooh what a learning process this is.
I keep thinking about the mantra: Under-promise & Over-deliver. Begrudgingly I feel that I am struggling on the latter part.