José and Anita have been working with Minga Imports since 2007, when Christopher Keefe met them in the Otavalo market. José first started making jewelry about 10 years ago with seeds from the jungle called cumbilla seeds. He began by selling them in the Otavalo market. Over the years, José learned to use other materials in his handicrafts by observing other artisans around him. He currently designs all his own jewelry using materials from the jungle such as tagua, coroso, acaí, taguilla, pambil and coconut. Anita and José are involved in every step of the jewelry-making process: they acquire the seeds and other materials in their natural form, cut them into the desired shape, paint and polish them, and finally drill holes to turn them into usable beads for their jewelry.
José and Anita have three children—Jessica Belen, Kevin and Steve Mates. José says that working with Minga Fair Trade Imports is incredibly helpful in having the income to eat well, provide good health care and medicine for Jose’s mother, and buy things for their house. José says that “the goal more than anything is to provide the opportunity for education to our children.” José and Anita have also recently taken out a loan to buy a car for themselves and their family.