Ximena Vásquez Paillalí is a member of the José Paillalí community in the San Gerardo de Lumaco area of the Region of La Araucanía. She grew up there under the care of her maternal grandparents when her parents moved to Santiago to find work. Ximena had a happy childhood and she recalls having a lot of freedom and space to play outside. When she turned 14 she also went to Santiago for highschool and then studied Management at Inacap. As time went by and the experience of living in the Metropolitan Region was enough, rural life and the love for her grandparents called her back to her birthplace where she got married and launched her adult life.
“Mögen” in Mapudungun means “life”, which is the name Ximena gave to her apiculture business that she began thanks to her father-in-law when she inherited his hives and bees. “My husband was selling 300-kilogram drums of honey. So I started by selling one-kilogram sized portions door to door. It went really well, so I decided to keep using that model. In 2018 I took over the reins of the business and took it in a new direction,” said Ximena.
She says its one thing to have the brand and the products, but selling them is a different thing. Opening up new sales markets during a pandemic has not been easy. She had been selling her products in Lumaco and surrounding areas, so in order to grow she had to look for new niches.
Her determined and energetic nature led her to knock on the door of her rural CMPC neighbor where she found a spot at the Espacio Fibra Local to exhibit and sell Mögen, a multi-flower honey and pollen.
Espacio Fibra Local physically operates in Temuco and online for all of Chile with more than 30 entrepreneurs in the area offering their products made with the techniques and methods passed down through the generations.
“We imagined Espacio Fibra Local as an open space designed to value the efforts of entrepreneurs and artisanal work. Although due to the pandemic our extension program couldn’t begin, today we are working on filiming a series of workshops given by the entrepreneurs that participate in Espacio Fibra Local,” said Ignacio Lira, CMPC Corporate Affairs Assistant Manager for Forests.
Forests, meadows, estuaries, oceans, foothills and coastlines are some of the places where the artisans grew up and draw their inspiration. A bit more than a year ago they became a part of the Espacio Fibra Local. This works under an unprecedented model, promoted by CMPC, a centennial Chilean company. Through this initiative it aims to value handmade work, revalue the trades, recognize the work of entrepreneurs and make available to consumers a range of articles and products offered through a fair trade model.
“This means there are no intermediaries between the producers and consumers. The price of the products is paid to the producers ahead of time and intends to provide a dignified quality of life and to make them more accessible, covering the minimum costs of operation. The store itself takes no profit whatsoever,” said Ignacio Lira.
While the first phase was planned as giving a big push to the physical store located in downtown Temuco, the pandemic accelerated the store’s e-commerce, now selling throughout the country.
Espacio Fibra Local sells an interesting range of artisanal textiles, basketry, Mapuche silverwork, pottery and processed agricultural products all made by individuals, families or collectives.
Currently 34 small businesses are participating from the Regions of Biobío and La Araucanía who are mostly neighbors of the forestry and industrial operations of the company.