Caribbean Giftware Project Illuminates Luna Design
When everyone contributes even just a little bit, it all adds up
That’s the philosophy that Luna Design, a high-end hand crafted goods producer from Barbados, applies to its socially responsible initiatives. The company employs single mothers who work from home, close to the household and familial responsibilities which they alone must be on call to fulfill. What began with helping one single mother four years ago, has now grown to a work force of 18 mothers of 28 children.
“What I’m trying to do with them is encourage them to believe in themselves and in their ability to achieve their goals. When they discover their competencies, they feel proud of themselves and gain self respect that they can pass on to their children,” says Gloria Plata-Neira, Owner/Lead Designer of Luna Design. This practice of empowering single mothers through employment has not gone unnoticed.
As part of the Caribbean Giftware Sector Support Project, initiated by Trade Facilitation Canada (TFO Canada) in September, 2007, Luna Design was invited to participate in product and marketing development work over the course of about two years.
This program was led by world renowned design expert Patty Johnson and developed with the participants the unique “Onsite Caribbean” brand of products, an umbrella group representing four Caribbean companies which included Luna from Barbados in addition to companies from Dominica, Jamaica and Haiti (see http://www.newcaribbeandesign.com/ for more details).
After several workshops in which the companies developed their products for high-end niche markets of North American, Onsite Caribbean was taken on the road – exhibiting their products at the Interior Design Shows in Toronto in 2008 (and again in 2009) as well as at Design Within Reach retail outlet in Toronto in 2008. “The fact that we have been reaching Canadian customers has been wonderful” notes Ms. Plata-Neira, “The response in Canada is amazing for us.”
Patty strongly commends Luna’s contribution to Onsite Caribbean: “Luna has always been essential to the success of Onsite Caribbean. Their products are well thought out and inventive – the use of vegetable ivories (an indigenous material) in many different ways was a perfect fit for what we were trying to achieve. The social responsibility aspect of their business is both admirable and effective and they brought to the group a level of enthusiasm and dedication that really helped the project to coalesce and the other participants to move forward with confidence.”
Luna co-founder and owner Ernesto Neira found the trade mission most beneficial as it increased his awareness of market requirements, and opportunities in Canada. During their visit to Canada, the couple was approached by Ground, the magazine for the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, and will be featured in the “Upfront Section” of the Fall/Winter 2009 issue. Moreover, they were able to network and establish four architect contacts seeking further designs from the company. Opportunities, including sales negotiations with Design Within reach and others, stemming from this ongoing exposure in the North American market continue.
In the context of the broader Onsite program, since the initial launch, a partnership with Umbra Canada has been forged, and plans for the upcoming Onsite Caribbean Two are underway. Further design development will then go on to be showcased at international trade show venues, such as Maison et Objet, Salon del Mobile, and Ambient.
With everyone contributing, Luna and the other Onsite Caribbean companies are counting on ever growing success.