Today we welcome Adriana and Federico from Ashanty Art as they share with us more about the background of their creative business.
1. Welcome Federico and Adriana. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are based? Hello my name is Federico Vargas and this is my wife as well as business partner Adriana Sblandino. We’re from Costa Rica and we’re currently living in the Guanacaste providence in the town of Los Pargos, or as most people know the area Playa Negra.
2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your creative business. At Ashanty Art we focus on creating unique works of art exclusive in design, using high quality natural materials such as: semi-precious stones including amber, jade, obsidian, and fossils. Proceeds from our art work are used to enrich lives of Tico’s by providing education, economic resources, and community support, necessary to succeed in a global business environment.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? Unless you live in the city employment opportunities are scarce. In order to provide for our two young daughters my wife and I took a course on Tourism Studies, which is where we were introduced to the art of macramé, micro macramé, and a way to make an honest living.
This was ten years ago, since then we have traveled throughout Costa Rica while consistently perfecting out art and providing for our family. We have always aspired to grow our business, but we didn’t have access to the necessary resources to market our jewelry, let alone ship it internationally. Fortunately, we were introduced to a student at California State University, Fullerton while he was in town on vacation. He happened to be majoring in communications with an emphasis in public relations and after a day of getting to know one another he agreed to help us and teach us how to use the available online tools to grow our business free of cost.
4. How long now have you been established? Ashanty Art has been designing handmade jewelry since 2005. Our web store along with blog was officially launched in June 2014. All together we have been selling our art in Costa Rica for 10 years and for less than a year internationally.
5. How do you decide what to make, and how do you come up with your beautiful designs? Our art is inspired by our relaxed “pura vida” life style, as well as the ever changing natural environment around us. As the seasons change, so our designs. In the summer months we find ourselves using a lot of bright warm colors. In the fall we prefer neutral earth tones, and during the rainy season a wide variety of blues and greens can been seen in our designs. We also incorporate various semi-precious stones into our jewelry depending on what’s available during the season or for specific healing properties. All of the semi-precious stones used in our jewelry are all sourced from Latin American countries ensuring their authenticity and uniqueness of our art work.
6. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? If the weather permits either my wife or I is at one of the nearby beaches Playa Negra or Avellanas selling our jewelry full-time. During the rainy season tourism slows to a halt, so we take odd jobs around town to supplement our income. Currently we’re working with our business partner in the states to grow our online business, and brand internationally. Our end goal is to run our business full time and use proceeds from our art to fund sustainable employment opportunities for the community.
7. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? Our family wakes at the first sight of sunlight each morning. After a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of Gallo Pinto and fruit we take our two daughters to school. Once the kids are dropped off my wife and I begin our short five minute scenic commute down a bumpy, dusty dirt road to either Playa Negra or Avellanas to start setting up our displays. While at the beach we use our spare time to design more jewelry or to host beach clean-up days to give back to the community for supporting us. In the afternoon, around lunch time we find a computer and communicate with our business partner in the states to get updates and to answer any questions via Skype. We have also taken an active role iearning how to design our website and add products to our web store.
8. What advice would you give to others who are considering running a creative business? You must absolutely love what you do, and the people that help you make your dreams come true, from the internal staff to the customers, otherwise you’re destined to fail.
9. As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any other crafts yourself in your spare time? If so, please tell us more. Yes, we also love making artisan soaps from natural ingredients found locally, photography, and painting. If you visit our site you also see that animals are a big part of our lives, we love caring for dogs and riding horses.
10. Finally, if people want to learn more about your business where can they head?
If you are ever in Costa Rica please come visit us at the beach, we would love to meet you and your family. Until then please like us on Facebook or feel free to comment on our blog!
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