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Forming ties beyond trade

Marcelo Ballesteros, 50 years old, has been working with animaná for more than 2 years. Marcelo has a crucial role since he is the link that unites our company with the artisans who live in the most remote areas of the Andean region.

As a retired sailor, he lives today in Salta, Argentina, and came to us through a colleague of the founder of animaná, Adriana Marina. Marcelo used to work with his father in crafts and ceramics since he was a child, he knows the techniques of artisan work well. When Adriana asked him if he would like to be the connecting link between animaná and the artisan community, Marcelo accepted the offer as an opportunity to explore and meet new people.

In general, Marcelo begins his day preparing the vehicle, calculating balances and accounts, and writing down which artisans he should visit that day. "Sometimes," he explains, "you can find them easily and sometimes you can't. If they are far away in the countryside grazing their llamas or sheep, it can take me 3 or 4 hours to walk from their houses to where they are." For this reason, Marcelo usually stays to sleep in the places he visits when the travel time is not enough to go and return in the same day. But, at the end of each long day of work, Marcelo smiles for the adventures he had.

Due to the diversity of locations and structured forms in which meetings occur, it is impossible to estimate the duration of each visit in advance. For this reason, Marcelo describes these trips as a journey into the past where there are no cell phones or televisions - simply, vast nature. The children's complexion is the color of their surroundings and they are always found playing with llamas and sheep.

“One day of work is never the same as the last.”

Marcelo's work contributes to Andean artisans by creating ties and connections between communities and building close and strong relationships. Sometimes, it is the artisans who travel to Salta to visit Marcelo at his house. He is always ready to assist them and makes sure they are aware of how valuable their work is. What Marcelo enjoys most about this special bond is being able to chat with the artisans and hear all about their lives in the mountains. As he would say,

"A bond of friendship is created that goes beyond commerce."

"You can feel the rivers flowing. The sky is so blue, and it's so pure and clear that you forget where you come from. If you take a moment and think about the incredible place with the incredible people where you are, there, in At that moment, you realize that the way communities can contribute to the world is by providing the different type of luxury that their crafts and fabrics mean.

His future plan is to be able to find travel routes open every month of the year, given that in rainy seasons it is almost impossible to access the most remote areas. Marcelo also dreams of accessible transportation for artisans to go to the city, since otherwise it is only possible to transport them with all-terrain trucks at a very high price.

Marcelo and animaná work tirelessly to give artisans access to the international market, and it is through their dedication and commitment that we are able to create and extend ties beyond trade.


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