Winifred Grace’s Partners in Mexico

01/24/2013

Designed in Chicago, produced in Cuernavaca.

Until very recently, Winifred Grace and her assistant made every single piece in her just-tough jewelry line themselves. The trouble? Scaling. So, when she randomly read about a workshop in Cuernavaca, Mexico, that employed local women to make bronze jewelry, she got in touch ASAP. “When I got my first set of samples from the workshop it was like Christmas: Every piece was more beautiful than I could have even imagined,” she explains. Meet the south-of-the-border members of the Winifred Grace team. —raquel laneri

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“This is Laura, the woman who founded the workshop. She is a descendant of Benjamin Franklin and President Roosevelt. She is from Arizona; her dad was in the civil service, and she traveled the world as a child. She works with a small group of local women who have never been able to earn a living for themselves, so she’s teaching them jewelry as a trade. It’s a way to empower these women so they can earn a higher income than they would working in the fields.”

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“I design the pieces at home in Chicago and send sketches with specific measurements. We do a lot of emailing back and forth with pictures, and, once we  hone in on the details, the workshop will create and send me a physical sample. Here, one of the women is soldering one of my ring designs.”

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“Laura tells me that these girls have become her family. The funny thing is that after I went to study metalsmithing in San Miguel, Mexico, seven years ago, I left with this burning desire to start a workshop there with the local women. Now I’ve met Laura, and she’s done that exact thing, just in a different city.”

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