“Quality over quantity” is our unspoken slogan at Yabal. We have been working with a group of around 50 artisans for around 8 years now. Each year we have been able to include a few new women into our Fair Trade weaving project but only when we are able to commit to provide enough work for all.While there are many communities and artisans in Guatemala that we would love to be able to bring into our project and support, we also have to consider carefully our own limitations and whether we can truly offer the same profound impact on the economic well-being of our artisans if we double the number of women in the project. Perhaps we could work with 300 or 400 women weavers- but that would mean only ordering with each woman once every few months or so.
By focusing on a smaller core group of artisans, we are able to offer greater support to those women and are able to work hand-in-hand to continually improve quality, innovate designs, and grow our personal and professional relationships with them.
While there is often an emphasis in the non-profit world to expand impact and reach by focusing the work on a larger and larger number of beneficiaries, often the quality of impact can get lost in the process. And we don’t want to fall into that temptation even if that sometimes means having to say “no” to bringing on new artisans to the project. It definitely feels better to be able to say yes, but it’s a disservice to all if we aren’t able to back up that yes with a long term and consistent commitment to our artisans.
This emphasis on quality over quantity also spills over into our commitment to Slow Fashion, to handmade fashion, and to artisanal production processes. While a handwoven accessory takes longer to make than a machine-made one, we think it offers, in return, a higher quality product- both in terms of construction as well as in terms of artistry and to a certain undefinable infusion of the maker’s spirit into the product.