Made a successful life for themselves
Sirci Marquez and her husband, Alberto, have made a successful life for themselves through their ceramics workshop just outside Lima, but they have never forgotten the life and the people that they left behind.
It was the threat of the Shining Path extremists which led to their families fleeing their homes and brought them to Lima in the 1980s.
Now the couple make ceramic figures and models which they sell through Allpa, one of Traidcraft’s Peruvian suppliers. And as well as providing work for others, they also support schools in Alberto’s home town.
Alberto came from a family of potters and during his first years in Lima he worked in his brother, Romulo’s, workshop. Then in 1990 he began working on his own and made his home and workshop in Santa Clara, which is where he and Sirci live. The couple met in 1995 and married a year after they met. When their first child, Alberto, was born, Sirci stopped working in textiles and got involved in the workshop.
Alberto taught Sirci the art of ceramics and little by little her skills developed until she took charge of the workshop. They expanded their line of products and developed a new technique for making the popular nativity scenes, which raised production from 50 to 200 a day.
The couple work in partnership: Alberto creates new models and carves the moulds while Sirci deals with clients, administration, buying materials and supervising workers.
“My inspiration is nature,” Alberto said. “I like to preserve nature. The relationship between mother and baby is a good thing.”
Allpa is a company set up to market crafts for producers around Peru. Based in Lima, it gives advances, loans and design advice. Also it does training on costs calculation and quality control. In the last years it has developed a programme to follow fair trade compliance (and support) with all the workshops they work with.
Traidcraft is now a relatively small purchaser, but was one of Allpa's original two export customers, who helped the organisation develop the skills to get into the commercial market.