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Ernesto Arango's family is huge: he grew up with 14 brothers and sisters. When he was eight years old, his father died. His mother supported the family by weaving and dying wool. Ernesto learned her craft as a young child, starting at age nine when he could no longer attend school because of terrorist violence in his hometown.
He makes tiny retablos inside eggshells and recently, granadilla skins. He was walking along the beach when he found an open granadilla on the ground and it occurred to him that he could develop a product made out of its dried skin. After three years of searching for the best way to dry and preserve the skin, he successfully began producing products from granadilla skins.
He organized a group of artisans in Lurín, his far-southern neighborhood in Lima, in 2008 so that they can work collectively to penetrate more markets and increase their capacity to handle bigger orders. He organizes and delivers capacity building trainings on things like designs, market trends, or accounting. He and others are creating new techniques to improve efficiencies in their workshops. So far they have had few orders as a group but hope to increase their orders as they make more contacts.
In addition to this artisan association, he has also established a small community fund to provide microcredit loans. Eventually, he would like to distance himself a bit from artesanía. He would like to spend more time running the microcredit fund and developing the artisan association.
In what little free time Ernesto has, he plays in a band with six other musicians.