Calypso Chile Glass Fusing from Chile
Marcela Cofre has been making unique fused glass jewelry since 1994. "I always enjoyed working with my hands, and the need to support a household led me into arts and crafts. I tried crochet, pressed flowers, and batik, but they didn't sell well," she says. "So I taught myself the art of transforming glass with heat." Marcela opened a workshop and soon was able to provide for all her family's needs. "At the same time I realized that with the creation of the workshop I was able to provide satisfying jobs for many people in my community, providing fair wages and giving the workers self esteem and happiness."
Calypso Chile Glass Fusing is a micro enterprise run from Marcela's home. "In the beginning I placed my products in local shops in Chile. In time, business conditions in Chile forced us to look into exporting our products. Now our merchandise is sold throughout the U.S. and Europe."
Marcela's main concern is the welfare of her artisan employees and their families, and she works to ensure their fair treatment, access to education, and ability to support themselves in a happy, healthy environment. "We are very proud to be able to give work to more than thirty families in Chile making glass jewelry, decorative pieces, wind chimes, and ornamental glassware. Our company provides dignified work to women heads of households," she says. Calypso Chile Glass welcomes all fair trade groups to help with their mission in Chile. She explains, "Our current project is sponsoring the work of students who are selling wonderful artwork made from recycled glass bottles. The profits will be used to help a nursery school for poor children at social risk."
Sonia Casas Labrine has worked at Calypso for twenty years. She started as a caregiver for Marcela's daughters before learning to make necklaces. Sonia has two sons and a granddaughter; one of her sons, Felipe, is in a wheelchair. Sonia's work with Calypso has helped her cope with the difficult reality of her son's disability. With the money she earns, she's been able to pay for all of his medical care. Sonia says she and her children never would have made it without the support of her Calypso family.
Another employee, Natalia Fierro, says "I have worked in Calypso for the last 13 years of my life and not only has it been a wonderful job but also it has been a school. I work in the administrative area dealing with national and international clients. Every day I learn something new and it always happens in such friendly environment that I give thanks for this beautiful life. It could not be better. I have a job, friends, I am always learning and Calypso is the best family I could ever dream of. I am happy. I am complete."