What is Fe?
Fe means Faith in Spanish. It holds several meanings for us. This social venture was a huge leap of faith for us but we believe the world is shifting in a more compassionate and loving direction and it is our responsibility to be contributing global citizens. We have faith that things will get better but also recognize that faith without works is dead. So we are getting to work and hope that you'll roll up your sleeves too! Our hashtag is a reminder and testament in our belief that we can alleviate global poverty through collaborative partnerships and faith in the ability of committed individuals to solve any problem. #IhaveFe
What is a B Corporation?
B Corporations are leaders of a global movement to use business as a force for good. We must meet high standards of accountability and transparency and use business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corporations aim to be the change we want to see in the world and believe business must be conducted by doing no harm but benefit all. We hope you will choose to B the change with us!
We want to help to create work for Artisans by utilizing their skills and be paid a livable wage. We also aim to provide support to initiatives that enrich the lives of the most vulnerable populations in Guatemala.
How do you determine what you sell?
We collaborate with Artisans on products we think are functional and will appeal to customers. You will find other Guatemalan bags sold online but their style is very different from ours - we are more minimalist at heart. While Guatemala is known for some of the most beautiful textiles in the world, that is not our focus. Our products are more about the people who make them and the people they benefit.
How do you arrive at your prices?
Great question! We don't have much in overhead costs and don't believe in marking up products like traditional retailers (5-6x). We want you to have access to reasonably priced, quality products that you can use for years to come that also provides a fair wage for the person who carefully crafted it for you. As an added bonus, through your purchase, you also support organizations that help entire communities. That's pretty awesome!
We pay our Artisans outright for their products so we don't burden them with figuring out how to purchase materials needed. We buy in small batches so as not to overwhelm our Artisans and create unrealistic timelines or rush their process.
In a nutshell you can get a clearer picture of our process here ...take a look
How do I treat my leather bag?
This leather will soften over time with the natural oils from your hands. While you can choose to treat it with a leather protector it is not necessary but we do recommend spot cleaning if needed.
Because this is a natural material, each bag varies slightly in texture and color. This is simply a characteristic of the raw material and not an imperfection but a unique indicator of quality.
What is a Huipil?
A Huipil is a traditional Mayan top. Huipils are handmade and vary by region, status and group. Designs normally take months to make and all tell a story. Traditionally, the art of making a Huipil and the stories they tell are handed down generationally.
Some of our products are made with reworked Huipils, this allows us to purchase from additional Artisans but also to bypass creating new textiles.
How do you find the Artisans you work with?
Some Artisans are people we have had a long standing relationship with, others we get to know through word of mouth, some we meet and begin to form relationships with and we also collaborate with Cooperatives (women owned).
Why don't the Artisans just sell their own products online?
There are a host of reasons that this doesn't take place with every Artisan. Many Artisans face serious challenges when it comes to making a living in Guatemala.
- Language Barriers. While the official language in Guatemala is Spanish not everyone speaks it. There are over 21 Mayan languages recognized and a host of others used.
- Access. Many people in Guatemala have no access to simple necessities like food, healthcare and education. Having enough to purchase a computer and having internet service is not a necessity and in many cases just not very accessible due to infrastructure issues - a bigger concern is just having enough to eat.
- Location. Some Artisans live in remote areas of Guatemala which makes it difficult to reach a wider market.
- Greed. Many Artisans that do sell their products at the Mercado (open market) are often haggled by tourists and undercut their own value in order to make the sale. It is not uncommon that the sale price doesn't even cover the Artisan's costs but when the other option is going home empty - the choice is easy. Tourism is a blessing and a curse in some ways.
Some Artisans do sell their own products through their website but the pieces we commission them for are exclusively sold by Fe Project so you won't find them anywhere else.
What is Guatemala like?
Guatemala has a tumultuous history and is plagued by a corrupt government, high rates of poverty, crime and chronic instability. The country endured a bloody civil war and unimaginable genocidal massacres that ended in 1996. The effects of which are still felt today.
Guatemala is a place that has so much natural beauty and history but by far the people are the most memorable. Guatemalans are some of the most generous, humble, endearing people you will ever meet.