Wednesday, October 27

From the market to the screen

The handicraft sector has found in digitization a precious ally to increase its promotional and sales potential. Your claim is none other than your identity sign. In a global context in which industrial automation advances by leaps and bounds with the production of large-scale articles, artisans cling to the added value of their manual work as a differentiating element and drive the transformation of their commercial platform to survive in times convulsive. With hardly any fairs or markets where they can show their skills and offer their products, the internet and the power of e-commerce have become a refuge for centuries-old skills that need new business opportunities to guarantee their survival. The key is to connect with consumers through the virtual universe and, above all, do pedagogy to transmit the meticulous process of creating unique and exclusive pieces that are being offered more and more through the screen.

Tradition and innovation go hand in hand in the strategy to overcome the crisis that many of the unions are going through through initiatives such as the one promoted by the Association for the Improvement of Traditional and Current Crafts (Amata), based in Alicante and integrated by 150 associates. The restrictions of the pandemic have blocked most events to show the ins and outs of historic trades at street level. Until last year they organized about twenty fairs and this year they have only held two. The complicated situation that has led many of the artisans to lose up to 90% of their income has forced them to look for alternatives to get ahead. With this objective in mind, Amata has created a website that brings together works by more than thirty professionals and, most importantly, documents how handmade products are created and who their protagonists are. «It is a direct channel between the artisan and the consumer. It seems that people are afraid of buying crafts online because they lack that direct contact with the craftsman, which is what they find in our fairs. To show the authenticity of the products, we have incorporated videos and explanatory texts. It is a way to connect with the buyer and to understand the value and price of an artisan product “, explains the president of the association, Elvira Geurts.

Aitor Vañó works in his wood craft workshop in Agres.

Pueblo Artesano is the name of the website where Internet users can visit workshops and shops, walk through virtual fairs or see craft classes based on the techniques and tools used to create the pieces. With this, the visitor can enter the workshops and, above all, put a face to the professionals, connect with their history and carry out purchase transactions.

Visibility strategies in social networks, advertising micro-pills or responsive web pages that adapt to mobile phones or tablets are some of the tactics that artisans begin to implement to achieve, paradoxically, that products and articles molded from ancient tools and centuries-old techniques can be marketed online.

Beatriz Hurtado makes glass jewelry in Almoradí. Tony Sevilla

Leopoldo Lopez and Rosa Pérez These are two of the province’s artisans who were probably among the first to bet on the possibilities of the digital environment through their business, El taller de la Rosa, located in Villena. They are specialists in making leather garments and accessories and they opened their own website in 2013. «We came up with the idea to increase sales and be able to sell medieval historical recreation products such as bracelets or bags to other stores. We do a lot of custom orders and the key is to listen to the customer and get what they want. ” Thanks to the promotion worked for years, they receive orders from all over the country. “It was very noticeable in the weeks prior to the medieval markets” although now, they admit, “very little is sold.”

Beatriz Hurtado, from Almoradí, has also seen its business volume reduced until it almost disappeared with the pandemic. It produces glass jewelery, a delicate material imported from the island of Murano (Venice) that is melted and molded with the help of a blowtorch to shape bracelets, earrings or pendants. “I learned to melt glass with my brother, who made decorative stained glass for churches, until I left my job in a consultancy and opted for crafts,” he says. Normally he worked in medieval markets throughout the province, Valencia or Albacete, showing his technique live. “It is not the same to see how it is done than to find a finished piece because it is given less value,” he says.

Hurtado he points out that now “the situation is complicated because we cannot expose our work”, but he does not give up. He has opened his virtual store and · «I am moving through social networks, uploading pieces and making myself known», he adds.

Also social networks and his own website help to keep the Iron and Fire school-workshop afloat, which the master forger

Alejandro Cremades in his forging school-workshop in Onil.

Alejandro Cremades, 48, keeps in Onil. His association with cast iron modeling began when he was in the military. He worked in a factory in Albacete where parts for airplanes were manufactured. Years later he decided to get in his van and spent two years traveling through different European countries to learn medieval techniques in renowned workshops. His deep knowledge of the forge has even led him to work on the restoration of part of the grille of the Pórtico de la Gloria of the Cathedral of Santiago. Cremades takes care of the work of casting iron with hammer, anvil and fire, and is his wife, Brenda Cacciola, which is in charge of promoting the training offer of the school-workshop, in which students are instructed in the art of the forge and commissioned works are promoted. “Now we are changing the website, which is 10 years old and is not adapted to mobile phones, to enter the digital market and get customers. We also advertise on Facebook and Google Business. They are good tools and generate a lot of movement through networks, “he says.

From game to trade

Aitor Vañó She is 27 years old, from Agres, and runs her own woodcraft workshop. He began making crafts with pruning remains discarded by his parents, farmers, and ended up turning what began as a game into his trade. Gouges and chisels are the tools with which he carries out his work, from sculptures to furniture or shields and toys. Without Christmas markets or fairs, he acknowledges that times are difficult, although he too is now focusing his strategy on making himself known online. «You have to adapt and that people know you. I have my website and I use Instagram, Facebook and everything I can to keep up to date. It is important that people know your work in order to value it.

The potter Silvia Arias in her workshop in Onil.

The marriage formed by Silvia Arias (potter) and Paco Trives (which produces by hand recreations of historical products such as armor, shields or weapons for the Moors and Christians festivities) also suffers in times of crisis the difficulties of the lack of events where to sell their products and they try to cling to digital channels to be able to dedicate themselves to trades that require large doses of vocation. “During the confinement I even opened a YouTube channel and a website, although it is very difficult to sell ceramic crafts online,” he says. Silvia.

And, while some artisans with years of experience continue to search the virtual universe for the visibility that the pandemic denies them, others like Marcel la Payá they have found a job niche in crafts. In his case, making bags that have a lot to do with the concept of sustainability and circular economy. This entrepreneur from Muro worked in the wardrobe setting for film productions until the COVID-19 crisis blocked the activity. Now she is dedicated to making bags with recycled tires and used clothing. The designs of his brand, Lulutbags, “have been well received” and a good part of the promotion focuses on his website and social networks. Although part of her clients, due to their age, are not very experienced in virtual codes, Payá find formulas to also reach that audience. «They know me through the internet and they contact me through the chat enabled on the website. I have put all my energy into this project and, for now, it is not bad for me, “he concludes.

Paco Trives makes medieval and decorative objects in brass and aluminum.

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