DOING GOOD FOR THE PLANET WITH ARTISANRY AND AN IMPORT EXPORT BUSINESS
By Anita Sands Hernandez, astrology@ earthlink.net
The ancient Phoenicians invented the Import Export business in 4,000 B.C. when these Lebanon-area dwellers (on the right bank of the Mediterranean sea) decided to travel to Britain in boats and there, they would 'farm out' their bronze industry to the locals.
These early geniuses combined their gift for design of artisanry, their boating skills, mapping, travel knowledge, their industriousness and business acumen in the 'first ever', on-the-planet trade route with England.
These ingenious, early art-collectors were addicted to making bronze art objects and their delight in this metal media turned them into Bronze-Age artisan-importers!
Coming fresh out of the stone age, you can see how little pitchers, cups and statues made of this gorgeous, golden metal (much more available than gold, but just as beautiful) would have been intoxicating.
To make bronze, they needed 9 parts copper, which they had plenty of, and one part tin, which they didn't have at all but which they found on one of their boating forays into the extra-Mediterrranean areas, a thousand miles away in England.
Lesser business men would have simply bought all the tin the English could dig, carried it home and started melting and hammering but the wily Pheonicians realized that the English (then, practically cave men,) might start to demand what it was really worth to them, i.e. form an early OPEC and hold them up for big bucks so instead, the Phoenicians did what sharp dealers everywhere do, they seized control of England and treated it as a colony.
They did not confide what they did with tin to their British slaves, never telling the mine workers what they did with the worthless-looking metal. Nor did they tell their many Mediterranean neighbors (Greece, Sparta,) where they were getting their tin, having all ships come into the harbor at nightime and unloading in the dark..
To keep morale up in England, they motivated their Brit subjects two ways: they killed them (probably by the Roman system of decimation, one in ten got the axe to frighten the other 9) if they wouldn't work for them striking terror into the subjugated Brits' breasts, and they gave them this new invention ---salaries ---if they WOULD work.Even a primitive Brit could figure out a buck was better than a sword thrust, any time!
The English miners also got a few, piddling bronze artifacts, which the English never realized was their own tin transmogrified. Their alien overlords also gave them a lot of glittery bronze coins which they loved, (it became the local currency) as well as other trinkets --the way early American Indians got glass beads in exchange for giving up Manhattan.
To maximize tin production, the Phoenicians moved to England and ran the mines, seeing that the workers stayed underground all day. As Britain was foggy what was the dif? The Brits stayed under ground and mined so on every level, the Phoenicians literally and figuratively kept the natives in the dark!
As modern importers, we aspire to greater kindness but to this day, the smart businessman looks for countries where his glass beads glass and chump change looks like big bucks to the natives and he keeps them in the dark as to what he does with the final product. That way the hand-woven rattan sofa that they sell you for 20$ is shipped to the USA where it sells for 199$. Or at $169 which delights consumers. In an imperfect world, inequalities can oddly enough make three people (artisan, exporter/buyer) all very happy.
To the guy in the Philippines, the sofa is well paid at 20$. His neighbors work in a pineapple factory for a dollar a day. It takes him 10 days to build the sofa. To him it's really worth l0$ in time, but you give him twice that. In some countries today, wages are higher than in others, but you'll never believe how much things can differ. Believe it or not, work that takes 1.7 minutes in Japan is paid the same as work taking 954 min or 33 hrs, in Tanzania, Africa. There is inequal exchange rate going on.
Economists tell us that this discrepancy was deliberately arranged by the countries that control the IMF and is being exploited by the new GATT and NAFTA type agreements that allow multi-nationals to move across borders without tariffs. The allegation is that when you give a huge corporation tariff-free entry into a third world nation, he starts writing its laws, union practices and can drain the wealth that a nationalist country might have kept for its own native industries' growth.
Who knows? But, obviously, freedom to invade at will makes life easier for the big manufacturers and will enrich those who least need it. When are things ever different?
But, the same 'one world after all' can enrich you, as well. only when you move across borders, you'll do it with generosity and morality. True? HELLO. (tap tap) awake there?
You know you will be generous and moral. The people of the ten poorest countries need someone like you to give them work; at the same time we can make money ON their work. So here's the rif: visit countries that the IMF list says has worst exchange rate: Tanzania, Mozambique, Zaire, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Burundi, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Nepal and Kenya. When you get there, find artisans. They do things that are hand made, take hours, are rustic, decorative and often could not be found in the highly priced 'first' world. My friend Robert goes to Kenya all the time, picks up armloads of copper bracelets for a buck each. Here they'd be $15 each. He gets florid African design textiles that his women friends would kill for. We make pillows of them.
In Africa, they make little sari type garments of them, but westerners don't wear such items. We just crave that jazzy, printed cloth! In vests, jackets, hats and shorts and sports shirts. So, if you think their third world designs are a little hokey, give them better designs, patterns that will sell better in the European countries where you carry and wholesale their goods ---where workers have relatively huge salaries for an hour of work and those garments seem very cheap!
USA, England, France, Switzerland, Japan, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Iceland, France and Germany are where management must pay its labor top dollar. These countries are on the IMF list of countries where a few minutes of work can give you the same money that 33 hours of that Tanzania artisan's time would cost! That African weaver could make a vest for a few dollars worth 30$ in the North. That African carpenter could make a hardwood shelf carved with figures, out of mahogany and you could pay for it with several minutes of your work. He would be happy. You could sell it for ten to 100 times what you paid for it and you'd be happy.
So to carve out your fortune, do what the East India Company did in the old days; Go to an exotic place, find artisans and pay them pennies for what you will sell for dollars.
This works anywhere rustic and exotic. Visit Spain where the unemployment rate is 22.3%, Poland where it's 13.5%. Tunisia or Mexico. Find a dish factory. Ask them to do hand-painted designs mimicking Portuguese Majolica perhaps, in chic New York boutique colors, all shades of green and blue on a cream background but over a red pottery so the rustic red shows through the glaze in places. Start clipping designs from magazines. Buy l00 dinner sets a week for some ridiculously low price per set, say 4$ a place setting, which in big cities goes for 100$ a place setting.
Better than going to the factory, why not go to the workers, and get them to set up their own operation. DEVELOP industries. That is the basis of import/export.
Imagine the l7th century when the Dutch and English went to China, and found these really sumptuous dish factories. They brought back tons of porcelain and must have paid ridiculously low prices for it, or traded some cheaply-made English woolens for dinner sets that brought astronomical prices back in London. When they were making tons of money, they added silks, carved jewel boxes, carved furniture, spices and enamelled or bronze art objects to their line. Europe went nuts for it. No wonder shippers became zillionaires.
Some importers like to load the boats both ways, i.e. take goods both ways, so find American objects you could sell to the third world. Be forewarned that Economic buff socialists feel this does their local GNP no favor. Emerging nations need to develop local industry, not buy imported. So when you bring fabulous needles to a third world country, analyze who's making needles there already and would you hurt them. Try to find objects they don't have there. Find items you like here which are typically Amur-ican, charming and would delight foreigners. Once you vist their land, ask the natives, what do you really want from USA? You might find that peanut butter is unique there.
Another thing. Your needles may be really costly for them. Africans or Latin Americans would have to pay with hugely undervalued money for objects overvalued. There is no cash parity that makes a go-both-ways policy morally possible even though it is economically feasible. So study the object and its 'market.' Find things that will do the natives good. Dual language English primers?
Another concept: there isn't much the third world really needs of tinned foods, US made clothing might be useful but I'm not certain as third world clothing is very cheap for them. They might need good embroidery needles as their own might not be well made, and if you were going to import those very embroidered goods back to the first world, you'd probably carry sharp, steel needles to them as gifts to your workers rather than wholesale them into/ sell them in their marketplace. Or take them sewing machines, ---something they didn't have. But in so doing, you don't want to ruin their local sewing machine factory's chances. That's where your morality and discernment comes in.
I've heard that many emerging, third world nations need bars of soap. If I wanted to reward my suppliers and workers, I'd give soap or maybe, if I were really generous, give school books. If I bought artisanry from natives in the backlands for years and years and had a profitable business, I'd dig wells for their village, have US well-or-generator technology brought in, or provide interesting new vegetable, flower seed, things they don't have. The Maui Purple Passion Fruit seed is easy to take in through customs, for instance, grows well in tropical countries and provides a sensational fruit for them to take to their village marketplace. The famed PAN AMERICAN shops of New York City, in the late fifties, gave their workers many gifts as incentives to work as they found a Peruvian native made enough money on a single pair of knitted gloves to live for a week, so he wouldn't make more gloves.
Then, there is the concept of positive transformation of the natives lives. I'd take projectors and slides for schools, educational materials of all kinds. The possibilities are endless. So look to importing. It's easy. True, it takes some start-up cash but you can write a prospectus to raise the money.
THE PROSPECTUS: A prospectus is a written, typed-up legal document, xeroxed, with a DEAL MEMO appended to it. (A kind of short legal contract.) and on that, you leave spaces for signatures, dates.
In the prospectus itself, we state the AIMS OF the BUSINESS, i.e. To create a profit making import and wholesaling biz, THEN, describe YOUR BIO/ particulars, your RESUME. This will glowingly describe your abilities, experience. Then, state How many shares will be sold. This is not how many are required. Securities Commission allows up to 35 'shares in a limited partnership.' But say we plan on 35. Divide amount of cash you need to start the business by 35. If it's 35 thousand dollars, everybody invests a thousand. They each get a share in your biz for that money. Ask a lawyer what amount you get for running it, maybe 3/4s. The investors don't get ALL of the profits. Stockholders get a % of it. Each year, your stockholders' profits get divided 35 ways. PROFITS for how many years? Forever? l0 years? You have to decide. Some times it works to promise them a 20% return on their money per annum. More than they could get in any stock market!
People will usually invest at the rate of 1 in 3 people approached. So, turn your connections into venture capital. As rare, exotic goods go with the profits, investors will be intrigued and join you on buying trips.
This is going to be both fun and work. You must travel the FIRST world setting up buyers at chic boutiques or Decorator Districts in Manhattan, Houston, or go international, selling to London, Switzerland, France. Next, you must travel the third world from one end to the other searching for masterful handicrafts. Doesn't matter what the design is, you can change that to suit modern needs. It's the craft that counts. For the finest crafts, you will definitely want to look around Africa. Kenya is lovely. I've heard that one should stay out of Nigeria; they are violently touchy with foreigners who they figure 'use' them in business and even jailed their number one music star, Fela, because he was doing business abroad. Don't go near it. The State Department advises which countries to stay out of. Listen to them.
The orient is a wondrous place, Bali, Thailand, The twenty thousand different islands of the Philippines, Latin America as well. One in-depth tour of a country will give you a ton of novel artifacts and addresses of suppliers.
GRASS ROOT DETAILS of how it's done: you always give artisans your home address, email, phone and the address of your stateside CUSTOMS AGENT. (You set up such a fellow before you leave USA.) Later you can order your objects by email or regular mail, without your traveling there. The local bank that is nearest the village artisan pays artisan when they see shipping was done, which they verify by looking at the waybill for the package put on boat or plane.
If you receive a shipment and quality isn't up to par, you simply don't go back to that artisan, or you work with him, getting him to shape up. If he sends a really shoddy shipment, which wasn't what you ordered, carry it back to him and sue him in the local court. Others will hear about it and nobody will ever stiff you, again.
Later, have the artisan ship directly to your clients in the first world country but always putting your firm's name on the package, not his name and address. This is touchy. As you may recall, the first law of the Phoenicians is never give away sources, keep everybody in the dark. Good businesses are based on firm control.
When you consider that most importers are giving artisans a little above what minimum wage would be in their first world country, or even giving them glass beads, you'll realize that you would be the best thing that ever happened to them
Anita Sands Hernandez started the BAZAAR FOLKLORICO Import Shop on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, in 1963. Her Biz partner was Jules Buccieri (THE MASTER JULES) who ran it for her as she lived in Mexico buying the merchandise. Anita raised her four children in Mexico, Jules ran the business. He left Anita and the Bazaar, bought the corner of Melrose and Robertson for the JULES BUCCIERI SHOP which is where Yogi Bhajan started his career teaching Kundalini Yoga ( l969) and which is where the famed Yoga teacher to the stars, Guru Singh started his Brass Bed factory, SUNSHINE BRASS (the factory actually was in Anita's garage). Guru Singh, Yogi Bhajan and Jules went on to become New Age gurus and multi-millionaires. Anita raised four children and still studies with the other three who are now, her gurus. She writes free articles on 'How to Start a New Age, Dharmic Business and become a Millionaire.' Those who can DO, and those who CAN'T probably are raising small children' is her motto and she's living proof of it.
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