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Ensamble Artesano: Helping Mexican artisans out of the COVID-19 crisis

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Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Fabiola Perez fills her home with beautiful Mexican crafts. She knows that traditional pieces are commonly found directly with artisans, in boutiques, or in tourist areas. But with the pandemic, these market channels disappeared, and with it, the income of many artisans.

This left creators, families, and even communities in precarious situations, but it also shined a light on an opportunity to provide horizontal market channels for Mexican artisans.

An interior design created using a selection of Ensamble Artesano’s products. Photo: Courtesy of Ensamble Artesano

Ensamble Artesano is looking to research and disseminate the different artisan paths that take place in Mexico. For their first collection, they worked with over 2,700 artisans in 18 states, creating over 15,000 pieces in lacquer, woodwork, loom, metalwork, ceramics, weaving, and embroidery. 

This bedroom has been decorated with pieces from the organization, all in different materials and techniques — Fiber baskets, embroidered pillows, and a woven rug. Photo: Courtesy of Ensamble Artesano

Fabiola, who is head of the communication strategy, said that they are more than just an e-commerce platform for artisanal work. The project is a become a collaborative space that allows linear conversations that favor artisans.

The Cactaceae Garden is a series of sculptures between 150 and 200 cm high, the result of more than six months of work by creative artisans with creator Fernando Coronel. Photo: Courtesy of Ensamble Artesano

“During this time, artisans and associations involved had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and create innovative design pieces,” says Fabiola. “We’re creating beautiful pieces full of history and tradition, and adapting them into products that are highly competitive in the market.”

The platform has become a sort of catalog of cultures, techniques, and styles, highlighting the specialty of each state and community. 

Apparel as well as home decorations creating different artisanal techniques. Photo: Courtesy of Ensamble Artesano

Many traditional textile crafts come from the state of Chiapas, but others come from Puebla, Oaxaca, and Yucatán. Backstrap loom, basting, and cross-stitching are some of the techniques found in their catalog. 

Woven pieces made from natural fibers come from the center of the country, in states such as Guerrero, Jalisco, and Hidalgo. Ceramics and pottery are made mainly in Puebla, Michoacán and Oaxaca.

Ensamble’s home page connects the work of a diverse field of artisans.

The diversity of the pieces is a testimony of Mexico’s multiculturality. The style and materials vary depending on the state, community, and the touch of each artisan. That is why no piece will ever be identical.

Fabiola proudly notes that the platform has also helped connect artisans and contemporary artists, which has resulted in very successful collaborations.

Among the products for sale on the platform are different fashion pieces. Photo: Courtesy of Ensamble Artesano

“We wanted to connect artisans with experts on the market who could advise them on what to create,” says Fabiola. “People like Mario García Torres, a contemporary artist, and Melissa Ávila, Creative Director and Founder of M.A, have provided their expertise to boost the communities. This has resulted in modern, beautiful pieces that fly off the shelves.”

These handmade pieces sold on Ensamble Artenano are made in Tlaxcala, Michoacán, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Quintana Roo, Chiapas and Puebla. Photo: Courtesy of Ensamble Artesano

Seeing the success of their first collection, Fabiola shares that they’re exploring the possibility of a second edition. Even though they are not yet settled on styles and designs, the emphasis of the brand will be the same — empowering artisanal communities.

“We are proud to be a nonprofit organization. Everything we generate gets invested right back into the project, and that has been a huge part of our success.”

Visit Ensamble Artesano in their Mérida branch, located in Calle 60 417A, in front of Parque Santa Ana, Centro.

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