How Boruca adheres to fair trade principles:First let us familiarize you with the principles of fair trade,set by the Fair Trade Federation:

1: A Fair, living wage for labor.

2: Protection from child exploitation.

3: Employee involvement in decisions.

4: Safe working conditions.

5: Concern for the environment.

6: Equal opportunity for women.

7: Long-term relationships between artisans and buyers.

8: Respect for cultural identity.

When purchasing goods from both Artesanos Naturales in Boruca or the Boruca Gallery Gift Shop, you will be associating with a group that follows fair trade principles to the fullest. You, the buyer, are dealing directly with us, the indigenous, with no middle man,[point #1].

In our village, there is no commuting to work, as in the outside world.We work in our village and in our homes with our families and friends. We have proudly possessed, cultivated, worshiped and worked on our land since the beginning of the history of Costa Rica, [point #5].

When we receive requests for our products, I meet with the women artisans, [point #6], and we decide who will do which items. We all have our favorite tasks though some of us enjoy all the stages of the production, [point #3]. We then can work together either in the rancho/gift shop area, while visiting with one another.

When visitors/tourists come to our village they can see us weaving. Also many times we give them a demonstration of the raw materials used in the dyeing process. Using natural dyes is part of our cultural identity, having been passed down from our mothers and grandmothers for centuries, [point #8].

If the women prefer, they can work at home, [point#4], tending to their children, if they are not in school, [point # 2], while weaving between chores.

For the last 24 years, we have been working with Susan Atkinson, owner of a small, nearby ecolodge Pacific Edge, [point#7], that has a point of sale gift shop (Boruca Gallery Gift Shop) with just our crafts, both woven and carved goods, and literature about us, our village and our elders. We are fortunate for such a committed friend who has taught us the ‘true value’ of our crafts and has helped us receive a fair price for our handiwork, [point #1]. 

A few years ago, we had a truly valuable experience in that three of us, ( my 2 daughters and I) participated in a cultural exchange with the Mayans of Guatemala. Susan showed us that other indigenous were selling their products to outside markets, which encouraged us to want to make people outside of Costa Rica aware of Boruca.

Since then (July 2012), we have set larger and stronger goals.With the guidance of Susan, we put a name to our group, becoming an organized identity. We came up with a name that describes all of our crafts, not just the weaving, but the traditional mask carving, as well as our gathering of herbs, barks, leaves, earth and sea snails for our dyes – Artesanos Naturales – the natural artists.

Outside supporters introduced us to more designs, expanding our products; however we had no idea of the prices they could bring. Susan put together a catalog of all our variety of woven products and established pricing, based on her findings from sales at her lodge, and gave us copies to have in our village when visitors/tourists come and we sell directly to them. We learned the value of our product, and were not afraid to ask the price that was set in the catalog – if necessary, we could always negotiate,[point #1].

Amazingly, we as indigenous have had to learn about such things as internet banking and PayPal, so we are prepared to open our doors to a global marketplace. In learning about all this, we are becoming a strong association.We are setting our goals and Susan is guiding us to think about the future and the children’s futures in keeping our traditions; as she has mentioned many times to us that, she will not always be there to give a helping hand.

We are proud people, and we are looking forward to form many long term relationships with more outside buyers, [point # 7].

Thank you,

Marina Lazaro, group leader of Artesanos Naturales