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    Female Entrepreneurs: Strengthening Export Competitiveness


    International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2010

    INKA TRENDS Elena Calatayud

    Arequipa, Peru's second most industrialized city and commercial hub, supplies 85% of the world's alpaca fibre. Recognizing the export potential of women entrepreneurs in the Arequipa alpaca textile and clothing sector, ITC - together with the Peruvian Export and Tourism Promotion Commission (PROMPERU) - developed a project to strengthen their capacity to penetrate international markets more competitively. The project approach focused on three key areas: design and product development; market access; and business development and marketing strategies.

    The textile and clothing industry is the most protected of all manufacturing industries in the global economy. This project, funded by the Government of Spain, is an example of the importance of quality, design and creative marketing in successfully accessing international and high-end markets. The women participating in the project are exposed to hands-on training in these three areas with demonstrable results. A case in point: prior to the project, the entrepreneurs did not have up-to-date or sophisticated catalogues that 'spoke' to their target markets. In fact, it was reported by one of the project consultants that their promotional materials were more likely to dissuade high-end buyers from taking a second look at their collections. However, after taking part in some of the training courses, the project beneficiaries have already developed highly refined product catalogues and other marketing information.

    Similarly, while they were already producing textile and clothing of a relatively high quality, in-factory training courses and international study tours enabled the women to adapt their designs to their target markets and reinforced the value of quality and detail in their finished products.

    For the women, the climax of the project was exhibiting their collection at the Peru Moda fair, which was held in April 2010. Peru Moda is considered one of the most important fashion industry events in Latin America and attracts buyers from across the globe. The trade show was a first for many of the entrepreneurs, who displayed collections centred mainly on women's dresses and coats, while a few of the collections catered for men and children.

    Some of the pieces in the collection were hand-made. Dresses were made from organic cotton and coats from woven alpaca fabric. What was striking about these collections were the impeccable finishing, detailed stitching and unique colours. The simplicity of the cotton pieces and the delicacy of the hand-knit accessories also contributed to giving the women's products a competitive edge and marketability in high-end boutiques and other luxury outlets. It is no surprise that there was much positive feedback and interest from buyers during the fair. The women reported that their experience far surpassed their expectations. They were able to establish linkages with buyers and are confident that these connections will lead to profitable business relationships in the near future.

    Based on the strength of the project's outcomes to date, it is anticipated that it will be a model for a larger-scale programme aimed at developing the Peruvian textile and clothing industry.


    Jessica Rodriguez

    Jessica Rodriguez Gutierrez created a women's and children's range under her Art Atlas label for the Peru Moda fair. In targeting the market for luxury baby wear, the label's children's collection is made of 100% organic cotton with some pieces produced in baby alpaca.

    The women's range includes dress and coat designs in alpaca. The Arequipa-Peru project consultant provided Art Atlas with recommendations including colour palettes, additional designs and marketing collateral input.



    Diana Yriberry

    For the Peru Moda fair in April 2010, Diana Yriberry created a men's and women's collection under her label, Calicampo. First and foremost a dye house, Calicampo is distinguished from other Peruvian collections by its unique colours. On the advice of the Arequipa-Peru project consultant, the Calicampo collection made some design improvements and is continuing to develop its colour palette to offer more solid options, particularly for the men's collection.

    Involvement in the project also assisted Ms Yriberry in developing her marketing and photography material.



    Elena Calatayud

    Prior to exhibiting at the Peru Moda fair, Elena Calatayud had experience working with some of the world's top luxury brands. Working with the Arequipa-Peru project consultant, Ms Calatayud developed her own product range and marketing materials for her Inka Trends range with the goal of cultivating direct relationships with high-end boutique brands in Europe and the United States. The consultant provided advice on designs to showcase, yarn selection and marketing collateral appropriate for the luxury market.