About The Artisan Collection
Scout Designs owner, Lisa Gindy, has a strong interest in (obsession with) micro-finance and the positive change that it can make in the world. Access. Is. Everything. There are an infinite number of potential entrepreneurs in the world with ideas and a work ethic that match those of the most successful entrepreneurs. The difference? Access. Access to loans, basic business training and a community that supports them.
Many years ago, Lisa volunteered with Friendship Bridge, a Colorado-based microfinance organization that works exclusively in Guatemala providing micro-loans and business training to women looking to start a business or grow their existing businesses. The work being done by the organization and the success stories of the women who have gone through their training programs left her in awe. And she wanted to assist the women coming out of these programs however she could and in a way that was being requested by them, not being imposed upon them.
Through extensive conversations with these women, she discovered that the women who work with textiles would often bring their products to local and tourist markets to sell and but then felt forced had to drop their prices far below a fair price because it was the only way to make a sale. Sadly, competition between sellers and pressure by bargaining buyers creates a lose-lose situation for all artisans. Some communities that are able to draw tourist traffic directly to their villages and local storefronts have been successful at creating co-ops in their villages and sticking to a policy of selling at set prices. In this scenario, all sellers in the community win.
But, for those artisans who have to travel to markets in other areas in order to sell their goods, this is not the case. In fact, sometimes, artisans go home having sold at a loss but because they need to sell their goods in order to have some money to pay for their bus fare back to their village.
Lisa felt that one solution to this problem was to have international customers create collections with the artisans that would be purchased from the artisans at fair compensation prices and then sold by the customers in their home countries. This way, artisans would not have to leave their children in order to travel to markets, they would not have to spend time selling their goods piece by piece and they were guaranteed to receive a fair price for their products.
While Lisa still owned her boutique, she would to Guatemala to work on designs with the artisans. She would travel to markets to source materials and design with the families in their homes. She would then ship the goods to Colorado and sell them in her store.
When she started Scout Designs, she decided to incorporate this into the business. At first, it was with accessories. However, when Covid arrived in the US, Lisa was in Miami at a tradeshow and was about to fly to Guatemala when she realized that she needed to go home. Just a few weeks later, Guatemala closed it’s borders and all worked dried up for the artisans. Their situation was desperate.
When one of the artisans reached out to ask for help, Lisa knew that their situation must be desperate. And so the mask project was created. At first it was supporting one family and, by the end, it was supporting 15 (and 55 family members). Success! As the vaccine started to become available, Lisa new that it would be important to transition into other types of products to continue the support for the families. And so she travelled to Guatemala (copious Covid tests and all precautions were taken) and worked with the families on clothing designs. Just like the masks and all previous collections, the clothing is made by artisans in Chimaltenango and Tecpan and all work in done in their homes. And, of course, they receive fair compensation for their work. The clothing designs are available for purchase now.
Want to see who is making the artisan collection and learn more about them? Be sure to look at our Instagram account @scoutdesignsactive.