What a Difference a Little Training Makes (Artisan Project in Guyana)

When multimillionaire and master copywriter, Ted Nicholas said, “Every super successful [person] is constantly working to improve skills. Why? You must be a perpetual student to become a master in any field. Those who never achieve their potential in life simply do not exercise their innate capacity to learn and grow,” he obviously knew what he was talking about. Marsha Bastiani may not be a multimillionaire yet, but she has certainly discovered what a difference a little training from CESO/TFO Canada has made in her life. Additionally, her curiosity paid off in spades. Bastiani learned about the CESO/TFO Canada program from the Guyana Arts and Crafts Producers Association (GACPA). She overheard a conversation, and learned of an organization assisting the Arts and Crafts organization to develop new products to become more competitive. Bastiani’s ears perked up, and she immediately knew that she had to get involved.

Marsha Bastiani, an artisan specializing in leather goods, and a member of GACPA, was one of seven companies selected to participate in the CESO/TFO Canada Agro Food and Artisan Project. As a participant in the Artisan Project, she got the opportunity to work with Paul and Beverly Williams, owners of Williams Design Studio in Ontario, Canada, who recently celebrated 40 years of creating award-winning artwork from leather. Under the tutelage and guidance of the artists, for two weeks, Bastiani received one-on-one training. During her training, she learned new techniques to work with leather, how to enhance her own designs, in addition to learning how to make new leather products.

“For the little time I spent in the one-on-one training with Paul and Beverly Williams, it was the best training experience that I have ever had. It was beneficial because I learned and accomplished so much in such a short time. I would welcome a second opportunity to work with them to develop new products and to find new markets,” says Bastiani.

After completing the two-week training program, Marsha Bastiani wanted to test her knowledge, so she made some samples – handbags, floral arrangements, slippers, and earrings. On her own, without the assistance of GACPA, she went to an arts and crafts show in Maryland, USA. The samples were such a big hit that she sold all of them. Her success in Maryland validated how beneficial the CESO/TFO Canada Agro Food and Artisan Project was. Bastiani added, “Paul and Beverly Williams taught me a sponge technique, and introduced me to using acrylic paint on leather. I had no idea that you could apply acrylic paint to leather, and I am quite pleased with the finished product. They also taught me how to make leather earrings.”

In Guyana, Bastiani’s leather products are selling very well. She sells bags, slippers, floral arrangements and earrings wholesale. By participating in the CESO/TFO Canada Agro Food and Artisan Project, Marsha Bastiani learned so much more than making leather products. She also learned the importance of product presentation for maximum impact, why it is important to be friendly, and how to conduct market research. Specifically, she learned which markets to go after, how to market, and most importantly, how to reach customers. The two weeks of intensive training packed a lot of punch for her.

There are times in a person’s life, when all she needs is a little help from a friend to succeed. And the help she needs may take many different forms, and vary depending on the stage of her business. For Marsha Bastiani, by way of the CESO/TFO Canada Agro Food and Artisan Project, for two weeks, she received the one-on-one help and support that she needed to take her business to a new level. Indeed, what a difference a little training makes, especially when it’s timely and relevant.