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Kering Fashion expert shares skills and insight with Guatemalan artisans of Mercado Global

Chloe Guillouet, Product Manager, Kering fashion house, traded a couple weeks of summer in Paris to volunteer in Guatemala, teaching and learning from some of the country’s talented artisans.  As part of an employee-volunteering program with Kering Foundation, Guillouet focused on improving production processes for Nest Guild member, Mercado Global.  In just two weeks, with her industry expertise, some joie de vivre, and a little help with Google Translate along the way, Chloe and Mercado Global were able to achieve great strides forward.    

Upon arriving at Mercado Global, Chloe took note of some already well-organized practices in place and was also able to identify areas where she could make suggestions for improvement.  Chloe worked alongside Diana Ramirez, Mercado’s Textile Coordinator, to streamline accounting and bookkeeping records, and pursued an opportunity to transition handwritten reports to a digital format for more accurate and accessible record keeping.  Chloe also worked alongside the Elizabeth Kaufman, Design + Product Development Manager, to develop a new, smart set-up for the FW19 budget that was more succinct and comprehensive. Additionally, Chloe worked to enhance some of the current product spec sheets, a tool used to capture product details, in efforts to optimize operations going forward.

Tapping into years of exposure working closely with European ateliers, Chloe imparted invaluable technical training as well.  Chloe introduced Mercado Global to new manufacturing tools and resources as easy ways to improve precision in production. She scoured Facebook pages for available tools that could be purchased locally and created a curated shopping list for the business to consider investing into as it grows.   Elizabeth shared how thankful Mercado Global was “for the time and hard work that Chloe spent mentoring and coaching the team by proposing new ways our production team can improve processes.”

Chloe also contributed her expertise with the pattern maker, Elmer, individually, going step by step, and advising on technical constructions, suggesting new ways of finishing, assembling, and sewing.  Chloe reflects, “It was really emotional to see that I could help them and they were happy to get […] new advice because they never got th[is] information before.” While their lives may be worlds apart, it was in these moments that both Chloe and the pattern maker felt a shared sense gratitude and purpose, “at this time, you know why you are here.”   

Chloe also noted that the success of any team production process relies on strong communication and clear dialogue, “I suggested improving the process of collection from sketch to final samples by making more meetings, even small talk, about modifications and amendments to avoid any product problem at the end.”

In addition to her time at the workshop, Chloe took a trip to Solola, a nearby village to visit a female community of artisans, where the leader of the group welcomed Chloe to her home where she works.  There, Chloe was proud to practice her Spanish and through these conversations, listened as the women shared the value of craft work in their lives, and how it paves the path to their sense of value and self-empowerment.   

Chloe’s positive disposition was equally as important as her impressive professional background.  As a native French speaker, (who is also fluent in English), the Spanish language barrier was quickly dismissed by Chloe’s resourceful attitude and commitment to the Guatemalan artisans.  She mentioned, “Most of them speak Spanish but I don’t so it was a bit difficult at the beginning to have conversations. Then I used Google translator, make some sentences, prepared them in advance.”  

Knowing the importance of how each artisan’s role contributes directly to the success of Mercado Global, Chloe prioritized time with each individual so she could understand every person’s work and challenges.  Because of this focused attention, Chloe was able to offer customized advice and believes that “everyone understood [how] they could improve the[m]selves little by little.” She is hopeful that her personal approach and suggestions will be integrated into small steps along the way, and will continue to resonate towards the greater impact on the artisan community in Guatemala in the future.