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FAQs

1. Does the staff speak English fluently?
2. How is pricing to the client determined?
3. How long do samples and production take?
4. Are you Fair Trade certified and if not why not?
5. What is the expertise of the artisans?
6. What kind of quality control exists?
7. Who are the artisans and how do they work?
8. Who are your past and present clients?
9. How do you pay your workers?
10. What form of shipping do you use to the US? What are the general costs?
11. What raw materials do you have available to work with?
12. What techniques do you have available?
13. Can you send me color and quality swatches of the materials you work with?
14. What is your sampling policy?
15. Can I contact past or current clients as a reference?
16. What is your success rate of on-time delivery?
17. Do you supply care, size and brand labels?
18. What are your payment terms?
19. Can you work from sketches or do you need a sample?
20. What is your return policy?
21. Do you have an agent in the US?
22. What is your policy on communication?
23. Can I send my own materials to you to work with?
24. How is your production done?
25. What are my payment options?
26. Can I see a real time inventory of all the materials (types and colors) you have available?
27. How do you pack items for shipping?
28. What are shipping costs from Bolivia?
29. Do you produce your own yarns?

 


 

1.Does the staff speak English fluently?
Yes. Anna Hosbein Aliaga, the CEO of AHA Bolivia was born and raised in the US; English is her first language. Her partner and husband, Carlos, also received his BS and MS in the United States and also speaks English. Several of the staff are also proficient in the language. Back to Top

 

2. How is pricing to the client determined?
Since our business is based on fair trade practices, we first have an open dialogue with our knitters or other manufacturers of our client’s products. Together we determine a fair labor price based on historical pricing, living wages and complexity of the design or product to be made. After this labor wage is determined, we simply add in the cost of raw materials and an overhead percentage for our company.
This is the price that is quoted to our clients. If the client is not able to meet these pricing standards, we are able to negotiate with the artisans to some extent. We can work with the client to figure out how to decrease the price by using different techniques or raw materials.
Pricing is essentially determined on a case-by-case basis. Discounts for quantity orders are given. Back to Top

 

3. How long do samples and production take?
Samples can take between 2-3 weeks and an additional 1-2 weeks during high season (Sept-Nov & May-July). Production takes 5-9 weeks, depending on size of order and availability of materials. Production takes longer during the high season (Sept-Dec & May-July). Back to Top

 

4. Are you Fair Trade certified and if not why not?
There is currently no fair trade certification for non-commodity or specialty goods. The reason for this is that the production process for handcrafted consumer products is extremely diverse, complicated and expensive to monitor. The certifying bodies within the fair trade movement have concentrated on commodity goods because of their accessibility and relative ease and low cost of monitoring.
The alternative to fair trade certification for handcrafted products is membership in peer reviewed fair trade organizations. We are proud members of the World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT).  This organization requires extensive documentation of manufacturing processes, payment of wages and treatment of workers in order to become a member. Yearly ongoing evaluations are also required for all members. Back to Top

 

5. What is the expertise of the artisans?
Handiwork, especially knitting, is a skill that has been employed in Bolivia for centuries. Some of the oldest textiles still in existence come from this Andean region. The craft of knitting, crochet, weaving and other handiwork is culturally significant, having been passed down from generation to generation. The craft of handwork is alive and well in the country – everywhere one goes from the bank to waiting at bus stops to the market, you can observe women pulling yarns out of their bags to finish a sweater, scarf or other hand knit piece.
Most of the artisans we work with have been with us for 15 years or more. The handiwork expertise that has been ingrained in the artisans since childhood has been honed and adapted to international standards over the past 15 years. The comprehensive knowledge our artisans possess also enables them to easily develop new methods and techniques. The artisans are quality-conscious, flexible, adaptable and extremely skilled. Back to Top

 

6. What kind of quality control exists?
All our artisans are trained to conduct quality control as they work. Each group and cottage factory does preliminary quality control before submission to our office. In addition to this, when pieces are completed, each artisan meets with our in-office quality control expert to review the garments, bags and accessories they have produced. Measurements, colors, stitching and all other general quality control concerns are discussed and reviewed. Pieces that do not meet our strict quality control standards are sent back to be either fixed or re-made. We understand the importance of quality in handcrafted products and work to ensure that each product meets or exceeds our standards. Back to Top

 

7. Who are the artisans and how do they work?
We work with 100-200 artisans. The variance in number is due to the amount of orders we are working on at any given time. About 95% of these artisans are women, 70% are landless poor, 50-60% are single female heads of household and 100% are indigenous or mestizos.
Our artisans generally live in the Cochabamba valley of Bolivia – an environment between the Alitplano and the tropics that can be quite remote with little opportunity for economic development. The artisans we work with generally do their piecework from home so that they may also attend to household chores and their children. The culture in the country is still quite traditional and the economy quite informal. The cottage industry manner in which we work gives the artisans opportunity for employment while still allowing them to comply with their domestic responsibilities.
All artisans are welcome to come to our office and workshop to work when they please. At the very least, they come in to drop off their piecework and conduct quality control with our in-house expert. Our workshop creates a sense of community for the artisans where they can share experiences and interact with other skilled artisans. Back to Top

 

8. Who are your past and present clients?
Please visit our Clients Page for a list of clients. Back to Top

 

9. How do you pay your workers?
Since most of the work we produce is piecework, the wages we pay are based on dialogue. We are members of the World Fair Trade Organization and work to meet or exceed fair wage standards outlined by this international organization. We pay close attention to the minimum wage requirements published by the Bolivian government and also strive to exceed those figures.
Wages are not determined based on labor hours alone since we feel this system is not fair to producers who are faster and potentially more skilled. When determining a price for each piece with the artisans, we take into account fair trade wages, national minimum wages, living standards, complexity of the piece, price of similar pieces in the market and feedback of the artisans. Wages are a conversation in which artisans have full participation.
Our master craftspeople earn at least three times the national minimum wage while assistants and apprentices earn about twice the minimum wage. The fact that most of our artisans have stayed with us for more than 15 years tells us that our pricing system is fair and democratic. Some of the women who have been with us for years have even managed to save enough to purchase houses, machinery and even taxi franchises! Back to Top

 

10. What form of shipping do you use to the US? What are the general costs?
For all production orders, we give you several options before actually shipping. We generally suggest either air cargo or courier service (DHL, TNT, or FedEx). We can use your own courier account if that is easier for you. For samples, we usually use DHL courier.

To ship via air cargo, the client must have a broker in the US to clear customs.
We can also ship via container through the port of Arica, Chile if volumes and lead times are appropriate (excess time needed for sea shipment).
National shipments are made via bus. Back to Top

 

11. What raw materials do you have available to work with?
Our strategic position in the heart of the Andean nation makes several specialty materials easily accessible to us. We specialize in the use of alpaca, pima cotton, organic cotton, recyclable plastic and leather. Please note that we must purchase organic cotton and eco alpaca from Peru, which carry a minimum of 20kilos per color and can take 6-9 weeks, depending on the current stock. In rare cases we are able to source wool, but generally speaking it is best to send us your materials if you are working in something other than alpaca or cotton (or blends of these). Back to Top

 

12. What techniques do you have available?
Again, our unique position in the heart of the Andean nation gives us access to a huge pool of artisans skilled in almost any handicraft imaginable. Our specialties are hand knits, machine knits, hand crochet, hand embroidery, cottage industry stitching and leatherwork.
We are constantly expanding our portfolio of techniques and can gain access to artisans skilled in almost any handiwork. For example, we are currently working on our own line of alpaca yarns, including the traditional hand spinning and natural dyeing of the yarns for later use in production. Back to Top

 

13. Can you send me color and quality swatches of the materials you work with?
Yes. We have comprehensive swatch booklets of all materials you might be interested in. These can be mailed to you for a minimal fee. Back to Top

 

14. What is your sampling policy?
We are happy to create any and all samples clients are interested in.
Client should send us a photo or drawing with measurements, materials and techniques they’d like us to use for the sample. After any questions are answered, we can usually produce a sample within 2-3 weeks. Price for the initial sample is double the production price. If the client makes significant changes to that sample for future production, we charge 50% of the production price. After the sample is made, we take a photo and email it to the client prior to shipping so they can make preliminary changes if necessary. We ship the sample to the client via DHL or another carrier at the client’s cost. We can also ship through regular mail if pricing is a concern and timing is not. Back to Top

 

15. Can I contact past or current clients as a reference?
Yes. Please let us know if you would like to contact clients as a reference and we will gladly give you their contact information. We ask that you notify us before reaching out to them, as we do not want them to get overloaded with recommendation requests, especially during their busiest seasons. Back to Top

 

16. What is your success rate of on-time delivery?
For original orders with little need for back and forth communication, we have an almost 100% success rate. Most orders however end up being added to and require several additional days of communication back and forth with the client. If there are any reasons the shipment might be late, we tell the client as soon as we know. We contact the client at least 1-2 weeks before the shipment date if anything is running behind. This however rarely happens. Back to Top

 

17. Do you supply care, size and brand labels?
Yes. We have labels made in-country with a very reliable factory. It is generally cheaper to have them made here than in the client’s country. We supply Care Labels and Made in Bolivia labels for all our production; price of these labels in included in the quote of products. We can have client logo labels made as well. In this case, you would send us the artwork for the label and we will send you a sample for approval before going into production on the labels. The minimum quantity of custom care or logo labels is 1,000 pieces; any extra labels not used in production can be shipped to the client. Back to Top

 

18. What are your payment terms?
We ask for 50% up front and 50% upon delivery to the client. After a history has been formed for a longer-term client, we renegotiate terms to net 30 days. Payment is made by wire transfer. We pay the wire transfer fees on our end and the client pays the fees on their end. Fees on the client end are generally between $20-$40. Back to Top

 

19. Can you work from sketches or do you need a sample?
We can work from sketches, photos or samples. Please just be sure to provide clearly marked drawings with specifications and instructions of measurements, materials and techniques. We do not need knit instruction sheets. Back to Top

 

20. What is your return policy?
If a client is unhappy with their merchandise, we give a discount on the price. If the client would like to return the production order due to dissatisfaction, we will supply a return address in or near the country where they reside. Payment will be returned in full for the returned order. We will then attempt to re-sell the products in our own retail shop in Cochabamba.
If the product is an exclusive or custom design of the client, we offer the items at cost to the client and they can decide how to dispose of the unacceptable products.
If the error in production is blatantly our fault, we will re-do the items and re-send to the client at no cost. If the error is a difference of opinion, we will re-negotiate the terms with the client.
Our clients have historically not had problems with our samples or production. Back to Top

 

21. Do you have an agent in the US?
No, we do not currently have an official agent. Depending on the client’s needs, we could work with an intermediary. We also have a wide range of contacts in the US that can do design work or act as an intermediary for designers. In Europe, we do not have an agent. Back to Top

 

22. What is your policy on communication?
We have a strict communication policy of responding to all emails within 3 business days. Once we have started working with a client we generally respond to emails within 24 hours. Back to Top

 

23. Can I send my own materials to you to work with?
Yes, if you would like to send yarns, fabrics, buttons, etc. we would be more than happy to accept them. To ship your own materials to us, we will need you to fill out (AHA Bolivia S.R.L. name, address, phone #, and tax #, exact material content on the item, and an estimated value of the item – low estimates good). We pay a customs fee when we receive materials and will add this amount to your invoice (this can be 25-50% of the value of the items you are sending). Back to Top

 

24. How is your production done?
We use a cottage industry model. We work with about 15-20 head knitters who take materials back to their towns and work with knitting groups to finish your order. The head knitters then return finished pieces to the main office for quality control and finally shipping. Back to Top

 

25. What are my payment options?
We accept wire transfers, Western Union transfers, and Xoom payments. We are not currently able to take credit cards or checks and PayPal does not function in Bolivia. Back to Top

 

26. Can I see a real time inventory of all the materials (types and colors) you have available?
Our stock changes daily so your best bet is to ask us if we have the yarns and colors you are interested in stock. If a color is out of stock, we will let you know an estimated delivery time for new stock of that color. Our stock options are limited to what the alpaca and cotton suppliers have in stock. Back to Top

 

27. How do you pack items for shipping?
We bag all similar items and then place the full order in a plastic lined, sturdy packing box. If you require each individual item to be bagged, we can do this but will charge an extra packing fee ($.50 per item that is individually packaged). Back to Top

 

28. What are shipping costs from Bolivia?
Shipping from Bolivia tends to be higher than some other areas. To calculate an estimated shipping cost we recommend adding 25-35% of you total invoice value to cover shipping costs to the US, for Europe and other areas it can be higher. Back to Top

 

29. Do you produce your own yarns?
No, we purchase from trusted suppliers in Bolivia and Peru. Back to Top