- Inman Park
The Scoop: ProPueblo’s success in helping others began with one small seed: the malleable tagua n...The Scoop: ProPueblo’s success in helping others began with one small seed: the malleable tagua nut. Also known to some as “vegetable ivory,” since, in recent years, it’s used as a sustainable substitute for animal ivory (it looks and feels like the real McCoy). The “nut” is derived from the plentiful, sustainable mococha fruit, found in the rainforests of Ecuador; its seeds sanded and carefully polished, then carved by hand into ornaments, buttons, figurines, bracelets, necklaces… anything one could categorize as a “handicraft” of sorts. ProPueblo has managed to make this craft a source of income for the small coastal communities of Ecuador, reducing pressure on the environment and helping preserve the cultural and ecological heritage of the region. And right here in Atlanta, the adorable Inman Park studio is tucked away on Lake Avenue as the only ProPueblo storefront in the world where you can buy the gorgeous tagua products and meet the people behind this amazing mission. Nadia and Eugenia, both from Ecuador, ship these products all over, making a steady income for these artisans. As for what you can find here? Think holiday ornaments, unique gifts, and generally beautiful decorations. But also think of the fact that each little handcrafted gem symbolizes something much bigger: the promise of a brighter future for the people of Ecuador.
The idea for ProPueblo began in 1992, when Nadia’s father (founder of ProPueblo) envisioned a way to help coastal communities in Ecuador from being washed away by sea swells. It started in La Entrada, where they ended up helping the impoverished community build a seawall using the money made from their traditional handicraft exports. The project was so successful that, not only was a seawall created in La Entrada, streets were paved, septic tanks were installed, and mains for drinking water were developed. And it didn’t stop there. ProPueblo assisted 21 other coastal communities to dig wells, and construct reservoirs, andfor the first time in recent historygave the entire region a reliable source of income.
Thanks to ProPueblo, single mothers are independent artisans working from home and supporting their families. The program works with up to 300 artisans and belong to the World Fair Trade Organization. They ship their handmade products to museums, zoos, aquariums and local boutiques, while all the proceeds go directly back to Ecuador. And right here in this little Inman Park bungalow, I find myself in ProPueblo's headquarters and only brick and mortar storefront, run by the warm and welcoming Ecuadorian duo of Nadia and Eugenia. The ladies were happy to welcome me in from the cold, offer me a cup of tea, and tell the whole story of their native country and the traditions of the tagua nut and the artisans who they’ve helped through ProPueblo. Seems the need to make others at home (and provide them with sustainable homes) runs deep with them. And as I bought a delicate butterfly ornament (a brand new addition to the line, Eugenia tells me, as a tribute to Inman Park) and a pair of tagua nut earrings, I felt tied to their incredible ProPueblo mission as well.
Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
This Thursday, December 2nd, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., ProPueblo will host an Open House with complimentary wine and cheers.
More information about ProPueblo’s mission:
Read ProPueblo's history here.
See their mission here.
Watch the artisans here.