JEWELRY & EMBROIDERY:
MuJER helps women to start small businesses
MuJER offers two programs, jewelry-making and embroidery, that enable women to start small businesses, provides them with increasing confidence in their talents, and offers them supplemental income and safer employment.
Our jewelry program began when we paid for Paola (who was completing sixth grade with us) to take jewelry classes at the local bead shop. We then hired Paola to teach jewelry-making at our Empowerment Center. The women sell the jewelry at local markets in Guatemala and MuJER also sells it for them in the United States.
Not only is the jewlery an important source of revenue for the women, it also helps us to recruit women to our Center to take advantage of our other progams. Alondar, a woman at La Linea, refused to speak with us when we were at the red light district. But, she heard that she could learn to make jewlery, for free, at our center and one day she showed up. She began to attend our jewlery classes, then completed sixth grade with us. She found the confidence and strength to change her life, still makes jewelry, and is now in culinary school.
When we sell a piece of jewelry, most of which retails for between $15 and $25, we give half of the money to the woman who made the piece. When the women buy their own materials, which many now do, we give them 90% of the selling price. Many women receive $2.50 per client; selling jewelry is both lucrative and safe.
In addition to our formal jewelery classes, we have drop-in hours in which women can come by at any time and use our tools and materials to make jewelry. We have had several women leave sex work to make jewelry full-time. We are also now offering embroidery classes as well, and the women are making beautiful, hand-embroidered bedspreads and table cloths. We will begin selling these in the United States, too. The embrodiery class is free, although the women to purchase their own materials.
The pieces the women make are modern, sophisticated, and unique. Our community has so much hidden creativity and talent, it’s wonderful to see it revealed when they are given the opportunity to develop it!