UNESCO-Funded Workshop for Female Craft Artisans

The content originally appeared on: The Barnacle News

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA – The Grenada National Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Export Development and the Grenada National Museum, is hosting a workshop, “Empowering Women Artisans Through Product Design Mentoring” from Jan. 9 to 18.

The workshop is focused on women involved in craft production: jewelry, basket weaving, ceramics, textiles, and woodwork among others. It is tailored to elevate and empower women artisans by providing them with the essential tools, insights, and networking opportunities that will not only enhance their craft but also strengthen their business skills in the artisanal field.

The workshop’s opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium. Kisha Gellineau, secretary general for the Grenada National Commission for UNESCO thanked all involved in making the endeavour possible.

“We are thrilled to fully implement this project – a remarkable endeavour – the project design and mentoring workshop tailored explicitly for the talented women artisans of Grenada,” she said.

Judy-Ann Antoine, representative of the Grenada National Museum, said Grenadian craftwork is essential to the local creative economy. She expressed thanks for an opportunity where women can improve themselves and their businesses.

“The Grenada National Museum is aware of the time, creativity and energy and skill that is required to create your beautiful works, and we are happy that you’ve taken this opportunity offered by UNESCO to improve the quality and reach of your products. Therefore, the Grenada National Museum looks forward to inviting you to our creative expo later this year where you can display and sell your craft.”

Agenda items for the workshop include an assessment of artisan’s products and businesses; a field visit to Sandals Resort Grenada and the Grenada Tourism Authority Craft Market and various workshop sessions, including one on mentoring with an international design and development consultant, Daniela Viscarra. Viscarra has 25 years’ experience working with artisans. Her passion lies in ensuring that artisans can make a sustainable livelihood out of their craftsmanship.

“If we don’t make this a livelihood – a real livelihood – then it will die in time. We have to preserve our traditions but also have a strategy in mind – a business strategy,” Viscarra explained. “I was training in business strategy and started this crazy work of doing my own foundation and I created a chain of stores and we are able to work with more than 3000 artisans in my country, in all different trades, and that gave me the opportunity also to go to another 12 countries to work with artisans in different parts of the world, in Asia and the Middle East.”

Most artisans from the region are struggling to live from their trade, even in countries with very high tourism traffic. Handmade products need a variety of value-added components to sell at fair, higher prices. These have been identified as:

great aesthetics – designexcellent quality (good materials, good finishes, and components)culturally relevant information (origin, traditional mediums, artisans, and production)a compelling story (present in labels and the sales locations)customer service (sales training)understanding of segments and price points

The objectives of the training are:

Understanding why the market will buy their products (target markets)Understanding costing and pricing and be sure their products are profitableLearning about value-added and the power of using that knowledgeLearning and understanding innovation and product developmentKnowing the truth about wholesale markets and online marketing and salesUnderstanding about improvement of the products through Product Design Mentoring

Gellineau said, “The unique opportunity aims to not only enhance skills but also to cultivate a vibrant exchange of ideas and innovation. The commitment and creativity of our artisans are the bedrock of our cultural heritage. This workshop stands as a testament to our dedication to fostering growth, empowerment, and inclusivity within our artisan community.”