Pairing volunteer designers with our partnerships abroad is a pilot program of Global Goods Partners that began about six months ago. This pilot program is progressing just one aspect of GGP’s objective to provide additional technical support to our community based organizations (CBO) around the world. Through this program, GGP strives to expand the impact of these artisans with limited resources by providing the support needed, i.e. lack of fashion trends in the States.
Alessandra participates in this program and works with El Hombre Sobre La Tierra in Mexico. We sat down with her to learn more about her journey to this involvement and what she has learned so far.
Alessandra immediately expressed her draw towards fine arts and painting, which eventually turned into a motivation to design public spaces that would serve the general public (rather than office spaces or Starbucks). This idea fostered for many years as Alessandra would visit her grandfather in Spain every year; she cherished the plazas and public spaces in Spain (and throughout Europe) and longed to spread such designs around the world.
As Alessandra entered the Pratt Institute, she never let go of this cultivated passion. She received a formal education in interior design from Pratt in 2004. During her time at Pratt, she pursued projects geared towards larger humanitarian projects, such as designing an auditorium for UNICEF. Alessandra describes ventures like this one as being “ingrained in me” as her mother worked for the United Nations for thirty years.
After graduation, Alessandra traveled throughout Latin America and discovered Nicaragua. She spent about eight months with an NGO in Nicaragua, designing schoolhouses, hospitals, and other much-needed buildings for the public. She then returned to the States for only three months. Alessandra was so captivated by the people and beauty of the country that she returned to Nicaragua three months later to work with artisans. During this period, she pulled unique items from their homes and workshops to share with others. She was inspired by their geometric designs etched into traditional clay.
Upon her return to the States after her second Nicaraguan trip, Alessandra founded Via Nativa—a fair trade, environmentally friendly business that focuses on sustainable wood jewelry from Nicaragua. This organization works directly with artisans and women-owned co-ops in the country, a similar mission to GGP. From running this business, Alessandra has been volunteering with the Fair Trade Coalition, which then led her to Global Goods Partners.
Looking for additional outlets to be involved with fair trade organizations and artisans around the world, Alessandra responded to the GGP design development advertisement posted on idealist.org. Based upon her experience and interests, we paired Alessandra with our CBO in Mexico with the objective to improve the design and quality of their products.
To do so, Alessandra researches upcoming trends in the U.S., sketches different designs, and then contacts the women artisans for further collaboration. This helps the women understand the U.S. market, connect with consumers, craft appropriate products, and ultimately improve their sales. As a result of this collaboration, the women artisans receive greater profits to uphold economic sustainability and improve life conditions.
Working with a GGP partnership, Alessandra offers this advice: Work directly, have patience, and know the capabilities and strengths of the artisans to ensure the best possible product.
It has been such a great opportunity to work with Alessandra and other volunteer designers in this pilot program. To read our full mission statement, please visit our website where you can also learn more about the impact of your purchase and see the products from this particular CBO.