Partnering for the love of craft
Salvodorians Monica Figueroa and Jacqueline De Leon understand the blues—specifically if they’re derived from indigo.
The two women partnered to create Bluetiful that produces textiles with deep blue inky hues. With Jacqueline’s indigo dyeing expertise and Monica’s retail know-how, they formed a network with the intention to provide women an opportunity for employment and a steady income. “Bluetiful was created with the vision of reaching out new markets outside El Salvador, since the local economy is very contracted with no significant growth in sales; we figured that by generating more sales we could generate more jobs,” said Monica.
Their network consists primarily of women who economically struggle and need work that allows them to stay home with their children. Many of them have little access to education or formal job opportunities, but who have learned and even mastered a handcraft such as sewing, dyeing, knitting or crocheting. Bluetiful also employs men, who share similar situations, and are given jobs so that they’re not tempted to emigrate to another country like the United States. The company has a small workshop and currently employs 14 people—with an even split of full-time and part-time employees. The space is also used for workshops to sharpen skills and learn more about design.
Their current line of products include the Home Elements Collection comprised of home decor accessories including throw pillows, tablecloths, mats, napkins, runners, as well as clothing and personal accessories like scarves and bags. All the products boast the deep blue that is the obvious factor to their branding. But blue symbolizes much more than the company’s label. It’s part of the historical-cultural and socio-economic legacy of Mesoamerica, in particular El Salvador. “It was the main agricultural product around which its economy revolved for more than 300 years, ranging from the late 16th century until the late 19th century. Unfortunately, the discovery of chemical dyes in the middle of the 19th century forced local producers to abandon its production. During the last decades of that century, indigo was no longer the main exporting product because prices dramatically dropped. Today, we are trying to re-activate the use of this natural dye in our country by providing new employment opportunities through the manufacturing of products dyed with indigo,” said Monica.
The two women swell with pride knowing that their reach has helped other women achieve their goals as well as the phenomenal acceptance by consumers of their high quality products and the allure of their intense blue hues. Yet, frustrations exist. One, among the many trials and tribulations of running a handcraft business is price point. “Some people just do not value the work and effort behind our products and are not willing to pay a fair price,” said Monica.
To expand their reach to buyers and ulitmately to consumers, Bluetiful will travel to New York City and exhibit their beautiful textiles and garments at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource from February 3-6 at the Jacob Javits Center. For consumers who can’t attend the show, Bluetiful’s products can be purchased locally at La Piskucha in El Salvador. Outside of El Salvador at Casa de Los Gigantes in Guatemala, online at NOVICA.com Amazon.com (under La Piskucha) and coming soon to Etsy.
For more information, please visit www.bluetifulindigo.com.