So, back to the point. A year ago we set off to find ways to use business and the capitalist machine our ancestors created and wield it in a way that opens up amazing doors to empowerment, community, quality and respect. We wanted to find a way to celebrate the amazing diversity of our planet and provide meaningful alternatives and opportunities to the crappy practices and products that many companies were shamelessly creating and, unfortunately, we were consuming. And we did just that, since our offset a year ago in May, we (and by we I also mean our wonderful clientele) have helped women throughout Central and South America receive a fair and, respectable payment for their artwork well over 3,000 times. And that's just half the story, through our shoe making operations we have generated more than 20 jobs and stand to create a lot more as we continue to grow. Our economic impact has been estimated at over $250,000 in these otherwise very disenfranchised communities. Much of this money has gone to provide nutrition, education, home improvements, and inevitably the occasional beer (yes, people in developing countries also like beer and we like to celebrate with them). And, something that can't be so easily quantified, Teysha has empowered Sophie and myself to dive fully and wholeheartedly into the world of global development allowing us to continually evolve our approach and find new ways to affect positive change in our own communities and those a world a way. Priceless I tell ya!
Most of all we are proud of our supporters, or as we like to call them, our allies (Teysha means Alliance), who are helping us grow this community. We have helped create 1000s of new allies for the Kuna people and their art form, as well as meaningful opportunity for the lives of our shoemakers. While we still have a long way to go, we, and the Kuna, are thrilled to have met so many people who were happy to connect to our mission and empower the mola art form. In fact, the Kuna are so thrilled with the opportunities we have brought, Teysha and our foundation partner, Luz y Fortaleza Indigena, have been granted a huge building to host volunteers, create further community development projects, and get to know the Kuna world even better. We are amazed and honored by the gesture and hope everyone will find a time to come experience the Comarca Guna Yala with us. It's one of the most spectacular places in the world.
Additionally, through the support of our Kuna Kick'n rock star allies, we've also been able to expand the Teysha mission to Guatemala where we have begun developing Guate Boots. Guate Boots, while a whole other animal, are designed to unlock this same sort of opportunity and help build markets for the Mayan women of Guatemala, who's art form is truly a gift to the world and a vital part of the Mayan's cultural livelihood. In true Teysha form, they also are helping raise the standard of footwear by working with artisan bootmakers who's craft is totally badass. Did I mention that we light the boots on fire?
Anyway, we're feeling good and we hope you are too. We also hope that your shoes are doing good. With that, I want everyone to know that we guarantee our product. That doesn't mean everything will be perfect. Imperfection is human and everything we make is made by people, so take pride in the lovely flaws that may occur, if it's something serious you have our full backing and we will do anything in our power to fix the shoe or we will make you a new one. Also, please take care of your shoes. They are true pieces of art and you should cherish them, wear them all the time, but don't forget to maintain and repair. Get those boots shined, when they're worn down you can get them resoled for $15 or 20 bucks, and you could even waterproof your textile (just make sure the stuff is non-VOCs). But really, the best way to care for OUR planet and actually make a difference is by taking care of the stuff you have and buying less. So take care of your stuff!!! and when you do buy something make sure it's high quality and that you don't look like a dork so you'll actually use it.... if it helps out a ton of great people pursue their dreams then even better. Hint, hint.
With this, I'm announcing my new blog. The Chicharron Chronicles. It'll be your and my window into exploring the weird and awesome world that is Earth. I'll talk about some of the flips and turns that we've experienced so far and the many others that are sure to come. We'll explore the reality of our globalized world, some of the not so good and some of the really awesome. And I'll speak frankly about what we are seeing, what we believe is effective, ways to address our environmental impact as a society, and most of all how to enjoy this badass planet. I welcome and encourage your engagement and truly hope y'all will find a time to visit our home away from home in the Comarca Guna Yala. It's amazing.
We will be welcoming volunteers from August 15th to September 5th. During that time we will be working on several projects: creating our Center for Design and Empowerment (name in development), helping in the schools, surveying the rainforest and the marine environment, and who knows what else. Oh yea, there will be amazing white sand beaches, crystal clear water, lots of fresh seafood, and some amazing hikes through the forests. You will sleep in huts, travel by canoe, experience the Kuna culture, find amazing molas, make lots of friends, and by the end you'll probably wish you could stay. We'll also spend some time in Panama City, especially in the Casco Viejo clubbin'/cafe'n/shopping/seeing amazing architecture, and of course lots of awesome food. We'll also see one of man's greatest feats– The Panama Canal. This is a trip of a lifetime.