Browse the La Carpio Etsy store here
A group of U.S. college students from Long Island University (LIU) are helping a women’s craft cooperative in La Carpio, a low income community northwest of San José, to ship their products throughout Costa Rica and beyond.
Composed predominantly of Nicaraguan immigrants to Costa Rica, the women’s cooperative is learning to use Etsy (www.etsy.com), an online store that features handmade and vintage clothes, crafts and other items. By selling their goods on Etsy, the women of La Carpio hope to be able to increase their revenue exponentially.
The cooperative aims to help its artisans achieve economic independence. Many of them don’t have the necessary papers to get an official job, and others are single mothers. For those with husbands, a steady paycheck means more control of the household’s finances.
The women create sling bags, cloth angels from recycled materials, picture frames from old newspapers and other crafts, but since their store is located in La Carpio, the only people who encounter the products are volunteers working with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (www.crhf.org). In selling the crafts on Etsy, though, anyone who searches “sling bags”, for example, could discover the coooperative’s page.
“It will be really interesting to see how the store translates to the Internet,” says Emilie Clark, a student in the LIU Global program and one of the creators of the Etsy project. “The women’s inspiration for the cloth angels is the love they have for the many angels in their lives, and the idea is that people will buy the dolls to express gratitude for one of their own angels. On Etsy, though, people will also buy the angels simply if they think they’re cute.”
Also for sale on the Etsy account is a quilt the women made. Each square tells a story of immigration, abuse, poverty and self-trust.
“They’re selling it for a thousand dollars,” says Clark. “If they’re going to part with it, at least the money will support them for a long time.”
For the women, though, selling their crafts is about much more than money. It gives them respect in their community and it teaches their daughters that women can control their own fate.