Giving a fashionable twist to social work
Second chances abound at Chureca Chic. A second chance for women of the community in La Chureca, the largest landfill in Central America, located on the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua, and a second chance for waste materials to be turned into stylish accessories.
Wanting to give a fashionable twist to the social enterprise and NGO hybrid model, Earth Education Project (EEP) launched Chureca Chic in 2013 to make jewelry to fund the social work. By creating a development model that has effective long-lasting change, La Chureca, via sales of its jewelry line, supports scholarships for women and provides a job skill training program run by the EEP foundation. “The Earth Education Project works with partners from the private sector to place women into formal employment for the first time, upon graduating the training program,” according Andrea Platzer, EEP’s founder and director.
Artisans are found within the community and each piece they create tells a story of preserverence to create a better future for themselves. “In previous years the artisans were scholarship recipients with our social project Earth Education Project. Upon graduating we contracted them and trained them to make the Chureca Chic pieces. Our artisans are skilled, passionate, inspirational women.”
The jewelry Chureca Chic creates merges traditional craft with contemporary trends, resulting in one-of-a-kind pieces that are released in limited edition collections. “We offer high quality, hand-made, original designs with a social and environmental impact. Our designs are created in house in our workshop in the center of Managua. Our jewelry is hand-made primarily from paper and combined with silver findings to produce long-lasting works of art. We work with smaller clothing businesses in the city to recycle their off - cuts and waste scraps. We learned to sew in 2016 and have added bags and wrap-around belts to our collections. Pieces made with fabric scraps are completely unique as each piece of fabric tends t o be a one- off,” said Paltzer.
The journey to creating a fashion brand has been filled with lessons and some stumbling along the way. One lesson was the breakdown of the preconception of the La Chureca community. “It is a rubbish dump and the perception was that everything that comes out of there is useless. We create works of art that have been on the catwalks of London, New York and Panama!
From February 4-7, Chureca Chic will return to New York City again to attend at NY Now’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Center. This year they will display their new collection WAY designed for the urban lifestyle and includes a few unisex pieces.
What’s the best and most fun takeaway about Chureca Chic’s accessories? “We put a lot of love, laughter and light into our pieces. Our jewelry is splash-proof, so you can dance in the rain with it on.”