Successes in 2022
2022 was a big year for Handmade by Friendship Bridge®! We grew, got noticed, and helped empower more artisan women to support themselves and develop their businesses. We look forward to even more growth for the artisans in our program in 2023. Here are some of the successes we celebrated last year.
16,736 products were handmade to export and sell through our six online stores. This includes sales at our Shopify retail store, Etsy store, wholesale online store, Instagram and TikTok stores, as well as our store on the Faire wholesale platform. The Whole Planet Foundation placed a large order from us to give as gifts to their supporters. We also had a successful year selling products through the online marketplace Bought Beautifully—an online store that allows customers to shop for products that support a variety of good causes, including women’s empowerment and creating economic opportunities.
We launched our Master Weavers Collection traveling exhibit. At our gala in April 2022, we introduced our Master Weavers Collection to Friendship Bridge supporters—a collection of 15 huipiles created by different artisans from all over Guatemala. In the fall, at an exhibit opening at Convivio Cafe in Denver, the general public got to see the collection for the first time. Each huipil was installed on the wall as art, and was accompanied by information about each artisan who created them. We look forward to having the exhibit on display in other locations throughout the new year. The exhibit was made possible and funded by our California-based supporter, Betty Toguchi.
43 artisans participated in Handmade by Friendship Bridge®. From bead artists to basket makers and everything in between, the 43 artisans in the program provided part-time work opportunities to 127 employees. Jacinta, our artisan known for her luggage tags and a wide range of travel organization products, was able to employ two full-time employees. Two new artisans joined the program, as well: Martha Carmen, a creator of handmade woven belts, and Rosario, who sells apparel with traditional embroidery.
We were featured in 7 different gift guides and other popular accounts online. It seems more and more companies, organizations, and blogs are showing that they care about gifts that give back to the community—and that means good things for Handmade by Friendship Bridge®! Last summer, Latina food influencer lacooquette featured our apron, microwave bowl holder, bunting, and pine needles basket, and the website, mitú, featured an article about our artisan Martina’s growth and development on its blog. These two mentions were followed by inclusion in a number of gift guides throughout the holiday season.
We received 18 press highlights in the U.S. We were recognized in the media more than ever in 2022 for our work in empowering artisan women in Guatemala. Highlights included a TV news report from Denver7 and an article in the Denver Post, in addition to other mentions and personal profiles in TV, print, and online media outlets.
We participated in 14 in-person events selling our products. We sold a variety of products at our spring gala, Convivio Cafe, and our Felices Fiestas Holiday Party in the U.S., in addition to a variety of virtual shopping opportunities in Guatemala throughout the year. We participated in a sale through the Colorado Society of Association Executives, and an Alternative Gift Market hosted by Lakewood United Church of Christ.
Artisan clients did not have to make the difficult and dangerous choice to migrate. Handmade by Friendship Bridge® artisans Lidia and Erika both had husbands who were considering migrating to the U.S., in order to earn more money for their families. Neither had to, because of the success of both women’s businesses. Erika said that her dream used to be to go to the U.S., but now her dream has changed since her products are going to the U.S.
“It is wonderful to see the positive transformation and empowerment of women artisans through their businesses,” says Indira Maldonado, Communications & Visual Design Coordinator for Handmade by Friendship Bridge®. “We strive every day to support them and help them grow, and yet, sometimes we don't realize how much of an impact the orders and education they receive at Handmade has. It is super satisfying to be part of a network of women helping each other.”