La Mega (La Mega Cooperative Artesanal de Los Saraguros), Ecuador has produced Czech glass bead-weavings in the form of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets since 2010. All 80 artists—mostly women— are Saraguros, and the cooperative formed out of five separate women's organizations, which joined together to internationally market their beadwork.
“The income is very important, of course,” says Patricia, “but the pride in having our beadwork appreciated abroad is critical, too. People in Los Saraguros and around the world look up to us as artists.”
Sales benefit the community in a number of ways, covering educational and medical supplies, sewing machines, community buildings, and funds for the local women’s shelter, which is also one of the five organizations that comprise La Mega. “Our work has funded many university educations,” Patricia explains.
For the bead-weavers of Los Saraguros, a favorite pattern is matizado, a color-blending weave that resembles a rainbow. The blended shades represent the way work, family, and religion also blend to create a balanced life. For the weavers, the rainbow is sacred; matizado is a prominent element of the traditional wedding necklace.
The weavers use no illustrations, no written instructions. New patterns materialize from the natural world, the water, hills, and sky, and good designs emerge through trial and error. Some necklaces take up to a month to weave.
One day, the bead-weavers hope, they will have their own office building. Ultimately, though, their dream is that the her children and grandchildren will also learn bead-weaving, and will cherish and wear the jewelry that has come to define Los Saraguros.Patricia is grateful that the group was selected to be a part of the IFAM | Online training program. She explains, “It is a great opportunity to be a part of the training as it requires time and dedication and I am learning how to use technology to grow as an entrepreneur and increase my knowledge to become the best of the best.”