What began as a love story became a family business that has survived for five generations, and it now faces the challenges and difficulties of artisanal activity, where demand and supply do not always operate in harmony.
With 48 years of existence, the artisan center La Aurora – named for the first ray of sun that appears day after day – is the last of the wool workshops that exists in the Magical Town of Bernal, in the municipality of Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro, Mexico.
In this place artisans make pieces like blankets, cushions, layers, shawls, rugs, among others.
Mrs. Flor Julia Dorantes de Montes, who manages the place since it opened commercially to the public in the 70s, notices the decline of wool artisans in Bernal, where there used to be more than a dozen workshops and currently there is only one.
She explains that La Aurora has been maintained because they have diversified the making of pieces and garments, in addition to looking for the sale of products from other yarns. “Previously it was only the blankets and the jorongos, but my husband started innovating by making rugs, cushions, scarves, capes, different forms of jorongo, he was very creative; that’s how the workshop resurfaced and was named La Aurora, ” she recalls.
-What have you done to overcome the situation?
-We had to be creative, we looked for new models, we paid attention to the actual fashion, and from there we started to work on some ideas for new designs.
A BUSINESS AND A PROMISE
As a child, Mrs. Flor knew the Montes Vega family, who had, among other activities and businesses in Bernal, a woolen workshop inside their house. Who would have thought that after the years she would marry one of the children of Don Camilo and Dona Maria?
The chemistry was given instantly, says Flor, and towards the 70s, she married Humberto Tomás Montes Vega, who decided to open a store, a craft center in what was once a family grocery store.
As Don Humberto always had the dream of not only making blankets, but to run a craft center that gave name and presence to Bernal’s traditional woolen fabric, the couple opted for thename of “La Aurora”.
In the first year of their marriage – in 1971 – they started the business with just three pieces of fabric, which they put in display, in full view of the public.
“I remember when we were kids, there were no shops and wool workshops open to the public in Bernal,” recalls Flor.
“Fmilies exhibited their shrouds, their blankets, at their homes, there were photographs of the products on the wall, and in Bernal there were several looms.”
Don Humberto’s illusion became a reality with the help of his wife, and now, after a little more than three decades of losing the love of her life, Mrs. Flor continues to manage and maintain the weaving workshop, despite the generational changes.
“My relationship, my marriage was very beautiful. I am going to be 33 years old as a widow, but there is not a day that I do not want to embrace my husband, who is waiting for me. My love endures and persists for the wonderful man, to whom I promised that this craft center would become a success, because that was his dream”, Flor said.
Other workshops used to be poen in this Magic Town, Don Conchito Rincón and Agustín Pérez, Don Sebastián Lira, Tacho Barrera, Abel Anaya, and Don Epifanio, but now only one remains, “La Aurora”.
– What happened?
– The workshops were closing because it was unaffordable, they did not have any sales, and they started to fun out of artisans.
The administrator of La Aurora indicates that currently six weavers work with her, some of them for 20 or 30 years.
She explained that there are pieces of wool that are made and then kept in the shop for up to nine months before selling, since the season of strong sales is in winter, when the waether is colder. This implies a difficult situation for “La Aurora”, since production expenses and payroll have to be covered.
The new generations are not interested in this type of activity. “Since Bernal became more touristy, with so many restaurants and hotels, people make money easier that way, than with crafts; that’s why they say is that the crafts are not well paid, ” Flor continued.
Also, production times are more extensive, and in many cases this prevents meeting the demand of customers; In addition, wool management is subject to conditions such as the weather, which is not good for the artisans (who obviously need to make money all year round).
“I do not know how long I can be here, I do not know, but I’m very excited to learn that my children want to continue with the business,” says Flor Dorantes, and she really hopes that one of her granddaughters can follow in her footsteps.
SMT Newsroom with information from elfinanciero.com.mx