March 30, 2016
Q&A with Allison Jones of Alegria Home
Allison Jones, founder of Alegria Home, answers our questions on how and why she started the online home goods company and what makes it special.
by New York Spaces
NYS: What does Alegria Home offer? What separates you from other companies of the same nature?
Allison Jones: Alegria Home is an online home goods company that marries indigenous techniques with modern design, offering exclusive items you won't find anywhere else. Unlike other brands that work with global artisans, we do not simply go on scouting trips to buy the products we find from that country. I develop textile patterns and work with the artisans to create exclusive items for Alegria Home. We take my sketchs and use the artisan's techniques to turn them into a designs that resonate with today's modern consumer. Alegria, which means "joy" and "happiness" in Spanish, is a true labor of love in every sense of the word. We are rooted in sustainability, fair trade and the rich traditions of cultures around the globe.
NYS: Where did Alegria Home gain its start?
Allison Jones: Alegria Home was started when I moved from New York City to Mexico City for my husband's job in 2013. At the time, I contacted a U.S. nonprofit that initially connected me to artisan groups in Chiapas, Mexico and then in Guatemala, which is where our first line was produced. My husband and I then spent many vacations and weekends traveling throughout Mexico and Guatemala seeking out the very best artisan groups to work with. In 2015, we moved back to the U.S. and sought out new countries to expand to as we continued to grow the line. Currently we are working with artisans from Mexico, Guatemala, India, Kenya, and Tunisia and are always seeking out new artisan partners.
NYS: Why are these pieces so special?
Our products are truly heirloom pieces since everything you will find in our line is made by a pair of hands. For example, our Vivian Hand Towels are woven on a back strap loom which is a loom that the artisans tie to one end of their waists and the other end to a nearby tree. The width of these looms is only as wide as the artisan's arm span—it's truly incredible. The floral design is then hand embroidered by a different artisan group. Our products have a story to tell through how they are made and we take great pride in that.
NYS: What are some unique aspects of Alegria Home that consumers would be interested in?
It is very important to us that the artisans we work with benefit from our working relationship. We take a holistic approach to working with them. By working with them, we are able to preserve old techniques and craftsmanship while providing sustainable income opportunities that the artisans can depend on. It is this that we are most proud of. Therefore, we pay all of the artisans we work with fair trade wages, which is 1.5x the average local wage for that area. We also pay for all of the transportation for our artisans when it involves them traveling into cities from their rural communities to meet with us or our representatives. We also pay for all the samples we receive, whether they are executed correctly or not.
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