Designing, creating, and selling jewelry, accessories, and other crafts is second nature to Rocio, who grew up in Otavalo, Ecuador, the home to one of South America’s most famous crafts market. After moving to the United States in 1998, Rocio knew that opening her own business was a natural choice. “All of my family does this job. It’s what I know and what I learned. When I first came here it was really hard to find a job; instead, I went into business for myself and began selling crafts on the street in downtown San Francisco,” said Rocio.
Rocio and her husband Alejandro now own a small store, Inkza Crafts, in San Francisco’s Mission District, and also sell their goods at festivals around the Bay Area. Rocio handles the store’s marketing, customer relations, and inventory while Alejandro manages the accounting and administrative aspects of the business.
Her favorite part about owning a small business, Rocio explained, is being a part of her community. “Each day I am able to meet and make connections with the people around me. I feel free.” As their own bosses, Rocio and Alejandro are able to spend more time with their children. “Our kids can be part of our work. They come to fairs with us and enjoy the food and all the people.”
One quarter of the merchandise found in Inkza Crafts is designed by Rocio herself, while the remaining inventory is made by indigenous artists throughout Latin America. The store’s success since opening in 2003 has allowed Rocio to work more on her own designs, and she recently has started to sell her products wholesale. A few stores around the Bay Area now sell her jewelry and crafts, and she is excited to increase that number over the next year.
Rocio and Alejandro first came to Opportunity Fund in 2007 and, using two successive micro loans, were able to build up their inventory and expand their business. Unfortunately, their store was damaged and items were stolen during a recent break-in. A $3,000 micro loan will help them to replace this lost inventory.
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