Esperanza and Pedro Jimenez began their journey to become jewelry artisans 30 years ago. They were living with their three children in one room of a school in exchange for cleaning the halls, classrooms and bathrooms. While they couldn’t read or write, they earned money for food and daily living by working in a textile factory and washing people’s clothes.
Esperanza relates that “poverty and daily life is very complicated. I can’t read or write well, so business was very difficult for me to understand. Over time I’ve learned and read fairly well, although I can hardly write.”
One day when Esperanza met a woman who owned a jewelry workshop and store. After talking about their lives and families, the woman asked her if Pedro would be interested in a job as an apprentice. He was willing to take a chance on the opportunity, and for seven years Pedro worked in the shop developing his skills as a jewelry designer and craftsman. His wages weren’t guaranteed because he was only paid for those items that passed quality control. With a family to support, this motivated Pedro to work even harder.
Pedro and Esperanza saved enough money to open their own business to design and create jewelry. At the beginning, they could only buy limited amounts of materials. They traveled large distances to cities and towns and sold their goods and reinvested the profits and built their business.
Within 4 years they had saved enough money to move into a small one room house. They lived, slept and worked in that one room. Seven years later they had paid the last installment and were finally homeowners. Over the years they’ve improved the house and have a separate workshop where Pedro and their son Estuardo work with their assistants.
Along the way there have been challenges, like travelling long distance to markets in the city to sell their jewelry; having their handcrafted silver spoons stolen while on the way to their buyer.
Taking care of the children while travelling to sell the jewelry they made was challenging. “There’s one specific day we will remember forever. That day we traveled to Panajachel, Sololá to sell our products. I took my three children with me. It was difficult because it was a long journey and they were small and were not used to traveling. We had no money and were counting on what we were hoping to sell there. The buyer of one store told us to wait. He took a lot of time and my kids began to get hungry. We had no money to buy something expensive, so we bought some tortillas and salt. It was one of the best lunches ever. We remember this story with so much love. It is nice to remember difficult moments when one was accompanied by people who care about and love each other.”
Their life story teaches us that dreams can be achieved and obstacles overcome with perseverance and hard work.
Over the years they have learned to read and write, and their business has improved. “We are so proud to have provided our children with an education so they may grow up to be professionals and take our small family venture into new heights.”
Through crafting fine jewelry, Pedro and Esperanza have generated enough income to help their children thrive. All three have graduated from college, and one has become a lawyer and they have opened their own jewelry shop.
The Jimenez Family uses sterling silver, green jade, lavender jade in shades of green and lavender, to create: rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces.
Here are some examples of their beautifully handcrafted pieces
For more of the Jimenez Family’s work, you can visit their artisan page on UNICEF Market.
Every purchase at UNICEF Market helps UNICEF put children first, and support local artisans like the Jimenez Family.