Folk art

Fair trade showroom of Chilean handicrafts opens in Santiago

Hands of Chile, an online exponent of Chile’s rich cultural heritage, opens its doors to the public in the stylish neighborhood of Barrio Lastarria.   

Thursday, March 15, 2012 Category: Business - Culture
Handmade and high-fashion: some of the goods on sale at Hands of Chile. (Photo courtesy of Hands of Handmade and high-fashion: some of the goods on sale at Hands of Chile. (Photo courtesy of Hands of Chile/Facebook)

Colorful alpaca shawls, horsehair pins woven into butterflies, Mapuche jewelery and regional cuisine are just some of the products that Hands of Chile have been selling online for the last three years.


Now the micro-business that seeks to conserve the living traditionsl of folk art and craft in Chile is opening its doors to the public, with a showroom in the hip central district of Lastarria, near the Bellas Artes museum at 436 Ismael Valdés Vergara.


Hands of Chile works directly with over 50 artists and craftspeople from the length and breadth of the country, operating on fair trade principals. They don’t haggle, and they don’t offer basement prices.


“When we see that a product is not selling, we don’t cut the price, but we choose not to trade the product,” company founder Romina Odone told Pulso Chile.


So far the company is selling more than 2,000 products a year, and while their speciality is in individual clients - tourists and lovers of traditional arts - they have also worked with some of the country’s biggest businesses, like wine-maker Concha y Toro, and retail giant Falabella. 


“We did a lot of business for the bicentennial,” said Odone, of Chile’s 200-year celebration in 2010. 


With an eye to this market, Hands of Chile also offers specialized corporate gifts, like framed tapestries and varnished wood products. And even though they’re dealing with the products of ancient traditions, Hands of Chile are constantly looking to keep their products fresh.


“We are always incorporating new artisans and new product lines,” Odone said.


Once the company establishes a local presence, they are also looking to expand overseas operations, based on their current success with U.S. exports through Puro Chile. 


“We will export soon. We are going to a fair in Italy to make contacts,” Odone said.

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