Did you know that 85% of artisans’ work never makes it into markets? How about that 15 million tons of orange peel and unused seeds go to landfills each year?
When civil engineer Angela Sanchez and her sister return to Bogota, Colombia to visit their parents each year, they buy beautiful pieces of handmade jewelry from local artisans. And back in the United States — where they call home — they receive compliment after compliment. People fawn over the pieces they bring back with them.
Sanchez — whose civil engineer training enables her to identify problems and then think critically about how to solve them — wanted to find a way to support the local artisans she was patronizing, while also using the waste products that she knew were filling up landfills. She also wanted to create something beautiful.
Naturally, an idea formed.
And thus Artyfactos was born. Artyfactos, it may not surprise you to discover, is a jewelry company that employs women entrepreneurs in Colombia and sells products consisting of safe, natural, and recycled materials to create unique pieces of jewelry.
Artyfactos is a new Wanderful partner (read our disclosure statement here), and I was excited to chat with Sanchez to learn more about her company, the women it directly impacts, and why she cites entrepreneurship as a powerful force both for social change and environmental impact.
How do you support women entrepreneurs?
We work with entrepreneurial women in Latin America. We provide them with employment opportunities that they may not be able to have in developing countries. My hope is that through steady jobs, we can positively impact their lives and the lives of those around them.
What kind of impact have you found entrepreneurship has on women?
Many women in Latin America — particularly Colombia, where I am from — unfortunately went through tough times of violence, perhaps having the misfortune of not completing their education and then not having an opportunity for income. At the same time, many of the women that we work with create beautiful pieces of jewelry that utilize natural items around them — many items that would end up in landfills (such as orange peel, cantaloupe seeds, and coffee beans).
The women that we work with encapsulate the entrepreneurial spirit — they found a way to create beautiful items and worked to create a business.
By providing these women with an opportunity to make money by selling their items to a bigger market, they are able to support their families and work toward better futures. My hope is that they feel empowered along the way.
How does the greater system of entrepreneurship affect communities?
Many of the women we work with want to build up their communities through their businesses, so by supporting them and helping them keep that business spirit alive, we are able to assist them in growing opportunities in their home village or city.
At Artyfactos, we also strive to provide business support and education, so we can hopefully help the women we work with keep their businesses growing and thriving.
You say one of the best ways to positively impact our planet is through entrepreneurship. How so?
As business individuals, I believe we have a duty to create social impact while protecting our planet.
One of the things I’m really proud of is that the work we do helps our environment by preventing items from reaching landfills. Not all startups and companies are able to have that direct impact.
At the same time, we really want to create that positive impact within communities, and we look to the women we work with for guidance on how to best support them.
As a woman entrepreneur yourself, how have you felt the personal impact of entrepreneurship?
I came into entrepreneurship later in my career, and it changed my life in a way I didn’t expect.
Working in civil engineering, I was often the only woman in the room. That was an isolating feeling.
Since building my own business — something I’ve always wanted to do — my confidence has grown tremendously. I’m now at a the point where I’m an active advocate for the power of women in the workplace. The perspective women bring to the table, it’s different — we need those diverse mentalities. Being an entrepreneur has allowed me to really feel empowered in my abilities — something that I hope is a ripple effect for everyone we work with.
Artyfactos and Womentum.
You may recall that earlier this year, Wanderful launched an exciting partnership with Womentum, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Every time someone becomes a Wanderful member, we donate $10 USD to one of the Womentum’s amazing women entrepreneurs.
The very first entrepreneur that Wanderful supported, Katherine, is an exotic jewelry maker in Colombia who is employed by Artyfactos.
Sanchez nominated Katherine to the Womentum platform for many reasons, namely her perseverance to provide for her 12-year-old daughter, who she is raising on her own. The funding from Womentum — from Wanderful members — has gone to providing Katherine with better tools, with which to continue to craft beautiful handmade jewelry.