From: Jicamarca, Lima
Group Members: Evangelina Pizarro, Silvia Vargas
Munay Rumi is a small artisan group of women jewelry makers based in the outskirts of Lima, Peru. They are dedicated to maintaining the highest standards and have shown great commitment to upholding the Fair Trade principles. They both moved to Lima from Cuzco in the early ‘90s to find more opportunities and still speak Quechua with each other and in their homes. In Quechua, Munay Rumi means “pretty stone.”
After many monotonous years in a jewelry factory, working 80-hour weeks for only $115 a month, Eva decided that she deserved better. She convinced the other members of the group, who were also working in the factory, to break off and form their own business. Their first attempt failed and most of them ended up back in factory jobs. But shortly thereafter, Eva heard about a Fair Trade project in Peru and went to see if she could be involved. Eva and her colleagues formed Munay Rumi and after a year of improving their designs and the samples they’d originally shown, they produced their first jewelry items for export.
They have been working together now since 2006. Because of their factory jobs, they had a good technical foundation but lacked in the area of design. Much of what they produced was commission work or similar to the mass-produced jewelry seen in the local markets. With help from an experienced jewelry designer they were able to build a cohesive group of designs into a collection and understand the importance of developing a signature style.
Unlike in the U.S., in Peru they cannot order materials and supplies for doorstep delivery; they must travel by bus into the city to purchase goods, which sometimes turns into a long ordeal depending on the traffic. Additionally, they do not have ready-made precious metal. In order to have silver sheet and wire to work with, They must first take pure silver “grains”, melt and alloy it, pour an ingot, and then roll it out into sheet or draw it down into wire. Munay Rumi’s jewelry is sterling silver and incorporates various stones from Peru including black onyx, lapis lazuli, and Peruvian turquoise.
For both Eva and Silvia, Munay Rumay is their source of income. They are grateful to fair trade because it has allowed them to become business owners and work for themselves. Bridge of Hope has offered the support necessary to make the transition from working for someone else to working for themselves through workshops and mentoring relationships. Munay Rumi has seen their self-esteem increase as they realize that a woman can support a household with her income.
In early 2014, Munay Rumi moved their main workshop from a space they had been renting to a space in Eva’s house. Also, Silvia has small space to work in her home. This way, they do not have to travel so far with their young children. Eva is proud of the space in her home. She says, “I bought my land. Even though it’s a little far away, it’s mine.” They hope that in the coming years they can continue to make jewelry and find more clients so they can accept more group members.