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👋 Hi, I'm Elena Brook-Hart Rodriguez, founder of Handmade Stories, and I want to tell you a bit about how this venture came about.
I was volunteering in Peru when the Covid-19 pandemic started. Once we went into lockdown, the organisation told us we had to leave. For me, it was quite shocking. I knew they were trying to put our safety first (and also avoid problems if one of us got the virus). But how can an organisation whose mission is helping people just shut down when something like this happens?
We had been working with women in rural communities in the Andes. I couldn't stop thinking about what they would do now. So I got in touch with them and offered to give them work. They were so happy and grateful. So we started working out with them how we were going to do things, what the costs of making each product would be, and how much they wanted to earn from it.
I decided I not only wanted to give them work but help them set up their own ventures so they wouldn't depend on our success. Some of them were already setting up a weaving association, and others wanted to set up their own businesses.
And that's how we started!
We now work with two more groups: a family of traditional jewellery makers, and men in prison who need an income to support their families. They set the price for their work, we don’t interfere and we don’t haggle.