Sosote is a small village on the coast of Ecuador, well known for it’s family-run Tagua workshops. Although off the general tourist trail, the main street is lined with market stalls with hundreds of carefully carved Tagua ornaments and beaded jewellery. To earn a living with these workshops, the artisans have to travel an 8 hour bus journey to reach Quito or Ambato, where Ecuador’s largest craft market is run.
In early 2011 Laura was fortunate enough to be taken to Sosote, and after a rocky ride, including two car break-downs and the road sinking under a 2ft deep flood, she was finally introduced by Wilma and Carlos (coordinators from World Fair Trade Organisation, Camari) to all of the workshop representatives from the village.
Carlos (photo:seated) was keen for Laura to witness the potential of these workshops, especially one particular artisan.. Darwin (photo:far left), who had extraordinary talent working with tagua, and had been previously exploited by the large local markets and their tough price negotiations.
After leaving Ecuador the plans began back in Peckham about new exciting ranges which could incorporate the Tagua nut in a different way that would appeal to the British market.
In 2012 Laura returned to Sosote and after being woken at 5:30am for an unexplained beach trip and dropping her toothbrush in the toilet, began working side by side with Darwin and 3 of his friends, to develop the pendant designs for Just Trade’s brand new Tagua Animal Collection.
Since that trip, Darwin and his friends’ work is now being sold in a number of Boutiques, Museums and Galleries across the UK, including the V&A and the Saatchi Gallery.
The Tagua Animal Pendants will be available to buy off our website by September. We’ll keep you informed.