Friday, January 30, 2009

M.O.D.A. de La Campa

So before Ellen finished her service, I asked her to help me give a business workshop to the potters. So in September, we gave a 4 hour business workshop on the basics such as the definitions of marketing and a product, the importance of product quality and promotion, and how to calculate the costs of a product to set a good price. The women here have never learned how to calculate the value of their labor and don’t realize how much more they SHOULD be selling their work for. Some women sold pairs of earrings for 10 Lempiras ($0.50) and didn’t even calculate that the metal she bought to make the earrings cost that much. When we told her she could be selling those earrings at 60 Lempiras ($3), she was shocked and said it was too much.

Me talking during our Business Management and Marketing workshop
about accounting and marketing skills (looks like my 4 years with CUTCO actually did pay off!)

For us, raising the prices of the pottery was such an obvious task that needed to be undertaken and I was super-excited thinking how much more money these women are going to earn for their beautiful work. However, a lot of challenges have arisen in trying to raise the prices. For one, everyone who knows what is La Campa pottery is used to the super low prices. In fact, there are some businesses that have found success by just coming to La Campa, buying the pottery, and then raising the price sometimes 600%. These businesses refuse to buy the pottery if it costs any more than the 50 cents a plate or $3 a large pot; and since income for the potters is a matter of having enough to buy food or not buy food, they are not willing to take the risk. Even if they were willing to take the risk, I would then have a lot of businesses and individuals very unhappy with what I am trying to do.

Ellen gathering info to change the prices of the pottery

So, Ellen and I have tried another angle. We have decided to look for the market outside of La Campa and Gracias where we can sell at prices that the women actually deserve. We invited the potters to a meeting and formed a directive that has representatives from all the different pottery groups that are organized in the municipality of La Campa. The name of the group is M.O.D.A. (Mujeres Organizadas de Alfareria) de La Campa. (The style of La Campa) . . . pretty creative, no?? M.O.D.A. will be in charge of taking orders that come from other parts of Honduras and eventually/hopefully orders that come from the states (but that’s not for way, way in the future). From those that decided to join, they elected three coordinators who will be in charge of receiving orders, dividing them equally among the different pottery groups, and then getting them shipped off on time. So far, we’ve got the basic organization but not necessarily the motivation to keep having meetings when there are no orders coming. And, truthfully, business has never been my specialty. But little by little we are taking the little steps necessary to get our name out there (we have an email address and are working on a website) and opening ourselves up to the possibility of success. It’s just a matter of if this will work or not. But hopefully it does mainly for the wellbeing of the potters and so they can finally start getting what they deserve for their pottery, but also because I´m proud of the group name and really want it to stick!

The potters

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