Ecuador: Artisan Workshop Improvements Lead to Huge Impact

As part of our Flourishing World Initiative, Noonday works closely with our Artisan Business Partners in Ecuador to improve our impact to the Artisan community there. For years, a talented couple in the city of Otavalo named Don Luis and Dona Moni provided the tagua seed our Artisan Partners use to create our unique styles. Luis and Moni would purchase raw tagua seeds and process them (cut, sand, dye and polish), making them ready to use in finished products.



But around two and a half years ago, tragedy struck the family. Don Luis was in a serious traffic accident — and after being in a coma for a year and undergoing several surgeries, he sadly passed away. This tragedy left Dona Moni as the sole provider for her four daughters and the sole manager for the couple’s tagua workshop. Prior to her husband’s death, Moni had played a peripheral role in the management of the business. But in the wake of his death, she has risen up to become an inspiring leader who manages her team with strength and integrity.



In the past, due to the informal nature of the workshop, much of the maintenance to the building was done by family members or employees with limited knowledge about safety procedures. This lack of training, coupled with medical expenses due to Don Luis’ medical condition, resulted in a lack of funding for needed workshop renovations. It was clear that without these improvements, the workshop would be an unsafe place for Moni’s Artisans to work.

At Noonday, one of our core principles is to ensure that all of our Partners enjoy safe working conditions. In that spirit, we worked with our Artisan Business Partners to contribute to improvements to Moni’s tagua workshop, which included electrical rewiring and a brand new roof.

Dona Moni recently shared that these improvements have made a “huge, huge, huge” impact. Previously, the roofs were plastic tarps, which often leaked water and would eventually have caused the wooden posts of the building to rot. On top of that, the water combined with exposed electrical wiring made for dangerous conditions.

In the past, the group did not have the resources or the training to fix or replace these hazards, but with funding assistance from Noonday and our Artisan Business Partners, they have made their dream of a safe workspace a reality and are extremely grateful for the changes made.

The new roof consists of steel reinforcements and concrete composite panels, and new windows allow for better ventilation as well as providing sunny natural light to fill the building as the Artisans work.

The re-wiring project involved the addition of a new breaker panel and re-routing connections so that they were no longer branching in a hazardous way. Switches and circuit boxes also helped to make future use safer.




Dona Moni says that her work with tagua “is my life…tagua is everything.” She is so appreciative that she has had an opportunity to learn to work with this special material, because through this work she is able to support her family, including her sister and cousins who all depend on her. Currently, there are five workers in the workshop who are primary bread-winners for their families, collectively supporting twenty family members. Moni has high hopes for the future and would like to be able to help other local families who are in need of work.

Want to help make Moni’s dream of employing others in her community a reality? When our customers purchase our beautiful tagua styles, they create a growing marketplace for Moni’s products and allow Noonday to create more work for her Artisans! Join us in making an impact by shopping our Ecuador collection, hosting a Trunk Show, or becoming a Noonday Ambassador to launch your own Noonday business!

Meet Nisha Bhatt

Nisha has worked in the fair trade space for years and has a passion for storytelling. Her appreciation for artisan craft and culture drives her desire to provide a glimpse into the people behind Noonday's one-of-a-kind accessories.

1 Comment
  • Terry Sheets

    July 11, 2017 at 11:42 am Reply

    What an eye opening article! Thank you so much for letting us know of her family’s struggle and that you are able to help make the work place a safe environment so that artisan business can thrive . It is a win – win!
    Since we can’t all be there in person, sharing their stories of struggles and success, helps to make us aware of the lives behind the beautiful seed necklaces that we purchase.
    Thank you, too for the photos! I own an interior design business and can especially appreciate the updated electrical work and the sturdy roof. I am astounded that people have worked under those conditions and can’t imagine having to negotiate all of that with a spouse who passed away.

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