Senora Tomasa began to sell silver jewellery over 27 years ago. She has several wholesale Mexican customers but just Silverchilli and another new French customer from outside Mexico. It is a family enterprise - She works with her husband, her son and her son in law. Her daughter in law helps in the shop. The business supports 7 children in total. Señora Tomasa and her husband make Silverchilli’s bangles, as well as Pluma and Flores Azteca earrings. Her son and son in law make the pendant and other items. They work from a workshop which is an outbuilding of the family home, where they also grow maize and other crops for the family table, and sometimes to sell too.
Senor Nava and his son have worked together for many years in the jewellery business. His daughter and other son are currently training to join the business too. Silver jewellery making has been in their blood for several generations. Senor Nava remembers his father's work as a silver miner more than 80 years ago. As a child he remembers the fine hair like raw silver strands his father used to bring home from the mine. Mining was particularly dangerous and health threatening at that time, so Senor Nava’s father encouraged him away from mining. But the silver had caught his imagination and he stared his life's work by running errands and bringing drinks for silversmiths in his community. Pretty soon they enlisted him in polishing and then finally producing small pieces himself. He went on to join their company which supplied some of Tiffany's world famous jewellery supplied from Mexico. He then made his own lasting mark by designing his silver weaving technique which he devised by copying a sombrero's woven pattern. He says that likes to work with Silverchilli because we always pay on time and he likes to produce his pieces for people who love his work and value it for its quality.
José Lopez Blanco
Jose has silver producing in his blood. Both his father and sister are producers and his brother is currently learning the trade. As he grew up he was surrounded by the silversmiths and quickly learned the trade from his parents. Like many Silversmiths in this area, he has never had any formal training at all. He now runs a local co-operative for Silversmiths, helping to provide support and also a retail outlet for many of the Silversmiths who work locally in small scale or home workshops. He says he likes working with Silverchilli because we are serious about fair trade.
Lidia & Graciela
Lidia and Graciela work together in a workshop at Lidia’s house. Lidia is part of a group of producers whose name translates as 'dignified life'. She originally started working with her partner Felipe after learning the trade through classes. In the beginning they just made items for friends and family but then moved on to make a business. It has been very tough and both of them have had to move back in with their families whilst their business grows. Now Lidia works with Graciela as it offers flexibility around looking after the 3 children they have between them. They say that they like working with Silverchilli because we pay part in advance and the balance on time, whilst all their other customers usually take 60 days or more, making it very hard to make ends meet. They also like the fact that we have a written agreement between us - this is again something they do not have with other customers. Altogether their business helps to support 10 people in their families.
What Does It Mean To Be A Silversmith Working With Silverchilli?
pays 50% or more in advance for all the orders to help fund raw materials, so the silversmiths are never out of pocket, and 50% on delivery.
Our objectives are to:
- Protect the silversmiths from the shop owner 'mafia'. They do this by finding other markets in Mexico where they can sell the silver at a higher price.
- Ensure that silversmiths are paid on delivery.
- Guarantees the quality of the silver (sterling is .925g) and the work to the purchaser.
- Raise awareness of issues important to the silversmiths and their environment.
To have increased capacity for the individual through belonging to the cooperative