Well I haven't yet had an opportunity to write about progress at the Chetana Womens Skill Development Project because I have been busy working and traveling. But its raining hard outside, and business is slow so I am taking this opportunity to fill everyone in!
My main goals for this project were to help the shop with marketing, product development and organization. Pokhara is a pretty big tourist hub; almost all the customers are European or American. So we have been working on making the store more appealing to these markets as well as improving the working conditions for the women. One of the main ways we are trying to do this is to organize the store and better display the products.
The first thing I did was change the display out front. Before this counter was stacked with papers and other junk. Khim took me to the large market where I found these baskets that usually hold vegetables.
They thought I was crazy when I suggested we buy them for the store. However, they are now okay with it and suggest that we buy MORE baskets to put out front; since changing the front display they have sold more items on display than those INSIDE the store. For example: before placing these "quick grab" items out front, they were selling very few pairs of yak wool socks, coin purses etc. Now that they are visible and easy to pick up and play with, these small items are making up about half of our daily profit.
While the shop has many already made bags, custom ordered bags and fabric are also possible. Despite the fact that this is a great service and product, not many people choose to do it. I am trying to change this by making custom ordering easier. The first thing I have done to change this is to ORGANIZE everything in the store so it is easier for the customer to know what they can choose from to customize a bag (fabric, strap, lining, tassel choices) We have had great success with custom ordering after changing this! Below are some before and after shots of the store.
Good thing organizing and color coordinating is one of my FAVORITE things to do! You should see my closet at home :)
The third thing I have tried to do is teach recycling and commit a space for it! There are lots of little fabric scraps and string that could be put to good use. The production space is tiny so I didn't have much space. I decided that a hanging basket would be perfect. It doesn't take up any floor space and is not in an area where women can hit their heads. Next step is coming up with products that can be made from the recycled scraps. So far I have thought of Ipod cases and these dolls. Does anyone have any other ideas?
Finally, I am trying to teach Tara color theory! Right now all the cotton is dyed in bright primary and secondary colors. I feel like if she were to be a bit more adventurous in her dying, she could get some really great results. She has a very natural color sense already, and I know that with this little bit of knowledge she
will do great things!
Even with the little lesson, she was catching on quickly. She asked if she could keep the watercolor and the next day presented me with an entire sketch book full of color combination's that she would like to try.