Ethical Fashion Guatemala Plans, Living on Lake Atitlan Guatemala is a gift. Safe, Incredible Beauty, Volcanoes line the lake, Hiking trails with the view that will make you stop and go WOW. Indigenous villages line the lake offering Tourists a view into the Mayan Culture.
Small shops line the streets of the villages, offering Handmade products following many of the Mayan methods of production. The Back-Strap Weavers are perhaps one of the reasons Tourists seek out Lake Atitlan and other regions of Guatemala.
Two years ago I was in the Gallery of Artist Antonio Vasquez Yojcom. A well-known Artist from the Village of San Juan La Laguna Lake Atitlan Guatemala. We have known the family for years. Antonio explained to me that he now needed to put a sign up to stop Tourists from taking pictures.
Why? Antonio had found pictures of his Art online for sale, Prints. A Tourist as we found out later had taken pictures of Antonio’s are in Antonio’s Gallery. Home in the USA, the Tourist decided to sell these prints online. Never thinking that it was Illegal and had violated Antonio’s Copyright. We found Copyright issues where throughout Guatemala, not only Artists, all Artisans had been affected.
Ethical Fashion Guatemala Plans
I felt the need to offer help, being Americans we have access to technology that the small shop owners of Guatemala lack. A year of looking into how to protect the Artisans works. Copyright protection was the answer. Copyright in the basic form is this.
Any form of Art, a Tote Bag Design, a Textile Pattern, is covered for the creator by a Copyright. Filing a Copyright is for some a complicated and for some a costly legal process. In some cases, Copyright is not required to protect a piece of Art in all cases. Only to prove that Artist or Weaver are the creators.
A concern I had was is Copyright abuse localized to innocent Tourists. Google and other Online tools allow for interesting means of a collection of data and conduct research. We found Online thousands of pictures of Artisan works from Guatemala.
Copies, Fakes, Machine Made, Claims of supporting Artisans offering a 15$ donation of the profits back to the support Artisan. What drew my attention to many of the websites was the prices for Guatemala Artisan products. A Leather Tote with Mayan Textiles selling for $285. The same Tote style sold from Artisans shops, $60. Who is making all the money? Not the Artisans.
In February 2017 we started on a website owned by the Artisans to draw attention to the problem of Copyright abuse. The website design took many twists and turns over the following months. We wanted the website to depict the Artisans, not as poor people sitting on the ground weaving, as the reason you might be interested in our message. All the individuals on the Ethical Fashion Guatemala website are local Artisans, depicted as we see them every day. Amazing.
Ethical Fashion Guatemala Plans Continue
May, we start having e-mail requests to buy products through the new website. Okay, we can do this, first order went to Australia. The Guatemala Postal System closed two years ago! We are now in the shipping business. None of the Guatemala Shipping Companies would even return our calls. Okay, I think we can do it. Today we ship all products to San Salvador and use their Postal System and other shipping services, in order to deliver customer orders.
In late June I was talking with a friend at the Washington Post telling her of this situation I have placed myself in. Her reaction was, this is a great news story. She put us in touch with Fashionista click on the link to the Article. We spent time with the writer working on the story. Terrified, to be honest, are we ready.
On August 22, 2017, the story was published. Great story. It went Viral and the numerous other online sites ran the story, interview requests came in and thousands of e-mails of interest and support.
We found the problem of Copyright Infringement is a Global issue for Artisans. For some reason, this idea we have found using the DMCA was never seen as an option to protect Artisan works.
An again simple explanation of our approach. Every website is covered by the DMCA and each technology delivering a website or Social Media Platform protects the creator’s content under the DMCA. In our case, this Act was the means to protect Artisan’s products. Submit what is called a Take Down Order and the pictures, copy are taken down by the Company that hosts the website.
Now, what to do? Like the dog that caught the car. Our new direction came from many sources. Organizations from Australia, Africa, Spain, France, Canada, and the US contacted us offering support and how this model we have developed can be applied worldwide for Artisans.
Copyrights one issue, Shipping, Credit card processing for orders, E-Commerce sites. The Organizations felt we had solved all these problems. Sort of in an ad hoc means. The Technology part we felt we could build. Shipping as we have found in Guatemala is the same issue Artisans face worldwide.
Ethical Fashion Guatemala Plans Shipping
The Media coverage changed everything. We went back to FedEx, UPS, DHL, and US Post with Articles in hand hoping we might find a shipping solution. That is the roadblock for Artisans to be a Global Business, enabling Artisans to develop a wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales process.
November 10th, 2017, Ethical Fashion Guatemala announced a Global Shipping Solution for Artisans providing two-day services worldwide. Copyright filing will be handled using Legal Zoom on the new Ethical Fashion Guatemala website. There is more coming in November, podcasts, Newsletters from Organizations, and more Media coverage. It has been an amazing journey, thank you all for your support.