Calumny

HISTORY OF LAMENTABLE CALUMNY CAMPAIGN AGAINST OUR ARTISANS’ GROUP

“When I was president of the Artcamp cooperative in 2001 y 2002, we suffered for the actions of foreign companies operating under the banner of “Fair Trade”.  They did not want us to be able to sell directly ourselves.” Read this letter, which says a great deal about how Fair Traders regard artisans.

THAT WAS BACK IN 2002, TODAY THE DAMAGING CALUMNY AGAINST ARTCAMP CONTINUE
– A SPURIOUS “AGGRESSIVE TELEMARKETER” CALUMNY AGAINST THE ARTCAMP CO-OP:

Here I learn that a “long time staffer at SERRV has called me an “aggressive telemarketer”.
These kinds of FALSE charges have recurred over the history of Artcamp with Fair Trade.

The rumor that I am “an agressive telemarketer” is mistaken. I am NOT a telemarketer.

I may been taken for someone else who makes telephone calls to sell Mexican jewelry?

Anyone out there who would claim that I am a telemarketer,
I invite you to a personal chat, as there is some mistake.
Perhaps my voice is not the one you remember who called?

Yet, here we have Ms. Renice Jones, with whom I have spoken several times by telephone.

Will she say that I am a practictionar of “sales tactics”? No. She admits that I have never practiced any sales tactics at all with her. Yet, she circulates 3rd-party rumors, to the effect that the travails of the Artcamp cooperative are somehow due to my tele-marketing calls!

Telemarketer? Me? No, sorry, You are barking up the wrong tree.
Now I am informed that somebody from New Zealand and a SERRV staffer have both identified me with this charge of “aggressive telemarketing”, when this is plainly absurd.

These are 3rd-party rumors serving to discredit artisans who some traders dislike.
Why? Because some regard artisans as unwanted competition in the U.S.A. market.

But here’s what Renice writes in an e-mail to the women:
This is precisely what I am complaining about. Renice Jones says here

that she "thinks I was surprised" when she accepted my introduction to Artcamp.
WHY does Renice Jones insist that I am a telemarketer? I am NO telemarketer!
This charge is absurd on the face of it. I am being mistaken for someone else!!!

I would request an interview with any person who says that I am an aggressive telemarketer, especially with Rich Howard of Plowsharing Crafts, who is one of the
sources of this rumor intended to denigrate and discredit the Artcamp cooperative.

I am NOT a telemarketer, let alone an aggressive telemarketer,
I think everyone in Fair Trade knows very well who is the aggressive telemarketer,
so WHY point the finger at me? Any “aggressive telephone calls” must  have come
from Ohio, in the United States, and NOT from here in Mexico.

This rumor-mongering about how Artcamp is disreputable
– the reason being that I am an “aggressive telemarketer”…

It happens that I am their connection to the Fair Trade retailers.
So, as far as I am concerned, this is part of systematic collusion
of certain Fair Trade members, against the Artcamp cooperative.

Kevin Ward letter to Tiffany Kaplan February 13, 2019

MARIA <maria.at.artcamp@gmail.com>

Apr 1, 2019, 1:43 PM

to victoriaglobalvillagelisa

Suzann and Patricial Pearson and Lisa: 

THIS IS THE LETTER SENT TO ME
ON FEBRUARY 13TH OF THIS YEAR.

Tiffany Kaplan

Feb 13, 2019, 4:07 PM
to Paula, me

This is the email I received this afternoon from Kevin Ward.  

Hi Tiffany.

I am so sorry you are struggling with Artcamp. The relationship has always been difficult as they struggle to make ends meet, they tend to lash out and blame others when they are in financial trouble.

Last year the situation deteriorated, the women accused Emi of stealing from them. After several emails it became apparent that Emi was attempting to retroactively increase pricing and therefore claim we had not fully paid. I believe this was to recover money that the women felt was missing. I have no idea if money really went missing or it was just the impact of a declining sales leaving them short of funds.  Emi claimed to be in fear of her safety.

I find the current communications from Emi very disheartening and dishonest. I am also very concerned that Emi seems to be suggesting that orders placed with Paula on the computer we gave to Artcamp are somehow not with Artcamp. To be clear we always paid directly into the same bank account provided to us by Artcamp for the 10 years we worked with them. At no point were we ever told that we were not working with Artcamp. Attempting to define Paula as somehow not Artcamp, is just another way to create confusion and extort money from Global Crafts.

This pattern of end of year extortion is unacceptable as we always paid 100% in advance.

At this point in time I no longer find Artcamp a credible fair trade organization, I do question the honesty of Emi. I do not know how Paula fits into this, but it is clearly dysfunctional. I feel very sorry for the women who Artcamp have let down. I can not say with any certainty that the women are paid fairly or even at all by Artcamp as the accounting is poor at best if not downright dishonest.

I do not feel confident that Emi or Paula intends to fulfill the contract created by your last purchase order. They are both deflecting blame for this. I can not in good conscience recommend continuing to work with Artcamp. I think you should seek out new jewelry artisans who want to have a positive relationship with global crafts.

On a personal note I regret introducing you to Paula and Emi as I know how painful it is to navigate this level of incompetence. I genuinely believed that they had moved forward and that for the sake of the women the relationship was worth saving. I see now I was wrong.

Kevin

Best,

Tiffany

Tiffany Kaplan | President

I AM SORRY. THIS LETTER IS QUITE MISLEADING. I HAVE NEVER HAD ONE PENNY
OF GLOBAL CRAFTS MONEY IN MY HANDS – THEY SENT THEIR PAYMENTS DIRECTLY
TO TECALPULCO AND NOBODY HAS PAID ME A SALARY EITHER OR PAID ME FOR MY EXPENSES REPRESENTING THIS ARTISAN GROUP WHICH RECRUITED ME TO HELP THEM QUALIFY FOR GOVERNMENT CREDIT (FONAIS) TO REPLACE THEIR CASTING MACHINE.

WILL YOU ASK KEVIN TO MAKE THESE CHARGES TO MY FACE, PLEASE
SINCE I WAS NEVER ACCUSED BY ANYBODY OF STEALING ANYTHING.
WHY DID MR KEVIN WARD TELL TIFFANY KAPLAN THAT I AM A THIEF?

OFELIA ESTRADA, PRESIDENT AND LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF ARTCAMP SC DE RL

from the Artcamp cooperative in Mexico

Inbox x

MARIA <maria.at.artcamp@gmail.com>

Apr 9, 2019, 9:42 AM
to sealbion, bcc: victoriaglobalvillage, bcc: Verna, bcc: lisa, bcc: Wendy

8 April 2019

To: Suzann Albion, Anita, Janetta, Leslie, Mavis, Tricia, Verna

Victoria Global Village Fair Trade Store
527 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC V8W 1N5, Canada

Reply to letter of 3 April 2019 from Ms. Patricia Pearson,
Board Chair of the Fair Trade Federation

Highlighted are Patricia Pearson’s comments
to Suzann Albion of the Global Village Fair Trade Store

My apologies for the slow reply. I’ve been for nearly two weeks
at the FTF conference/vacation and also managing a political campaign.

 I have spoke to Kevin, Renice, and Tiffany of Global Crafts,
as well as Chris Solt, Executive Director of FTF regarding Art Camp.

Its unfair to condemn us without letting us be heard.
Please: nobody has ever been willing to let us speak.

You are correct in that there are several factions within Art Camp, and not all are well intentioned.

Excuse me, but here are NO such “factions” within the Artcamp cooperative.
Global Crafts broke communications with Artcamp on December 17th 2017,
Global Crafts went to the older sister of one of the cooperative members to have her make Artcamp’s own jewelry, at prices unchanged since 2010.

Perhaps this outside person is the “faction” that Kevin and Renice have made reference to? And ¿WHO do you claim is not “well-intentioned”? ¿What do you mean by this?

Kevin and Renice, former owners of Global Crafts, purchased from Art Camp

for many many years, and have been trying to support this group as best as they could.

Not true. The GMAIL record of Artcamp-Global Crafts 2010-2019
demonstrates that Global Crafts, all those years, neither “supported”
nor benefitted artisans in our locality. Specifically, WHAT “support”
was afforded and to whom? Global Crafts assumed Artcamp’s customers,
and made liberal profits in Artcamp’s name. When Global Crafts took over
Artcamp’s Fair Trade representation in 2010); (10) artisan families were fully employed.

Thus, Artcamp was already modestly successful before Global Crafts took over its good name and its product lines and its Fair Trade customers. Previous to Global Crafts (1999-2010) Artcamp Cooperative’s annual sales were consistently more than 100,000usd$.

They’ve visited the group on several occasions to try to help them work out their challenges, and get to the bottom of the matter.

Yes, Global Crafts employee Caitie Quinn inspected Artcamp on two occasions.

Respectfully, we request that Caitie’s notebooks and reports be secured and that Caitie be asked to voluntarily testify as to the intended purpose of her visit, and what was the sum and the detail of what she learned from her time with the Artcamp craftswomen. She stayed a week in Cirina Lugo’s home, she knows through experience the cooperative’s situation. I do not doubt that she will freely give testimony favorable to us to counteract this very misleading statement about the purpose of official Global Craft visits to inspect Artcamp’s cooperative.

They’ve spent countless hours on the phone.

Outrageous claim. No such hours have been “spent” on the phone with us. What hours?

Unfortunately it appears nothing has changed.

What has changed is that the Artcamp cooperative, the hope and pride
of the towns of Tecalpulco and Taxco El Viejo was ruined by Global Crafts.

The group increased prices (after orders were placed and paid for in full),
demanded that Global Crafts increase orders years over year, and withheld orders.

NO such demands were ever made. The GMAIL record speaks for itself.
Please! We beg, we plead for an opportunity to address these false charges.

Global Crafts cut Artcamp’s production orders in January 2017.

Four families of Global Craft’s own loyal crafts workers were dismissed without warning, without any explanation, without any compensation, and without any pity for these people.

Despite the challenges, they continued to purchase from them, and paid the prices requested.

False. Global Crafts did NOT respond well to a very modest price increase proposal (it was only enough to cover the cost of materials employed in their own production) Again, the GMAIL record is transparent. Kevin became very angry at the prospect of a price raise;
he shut down the channel of communication with the Artcamp office. I did not hear from Global Crafts again until August 28th of 2018 when Tiffany Kaplan introduced herself
as the new owner of Global Crafts and instructed that I make for her, some unique pet products in leather: stone mosaic leashes and collars for cats and dogs. I took this as a
gesture of good will, however, I was never paid for my labor or materials (I purchased a beautiful heifer skin for this project) nor for my original designs; my original-models
I was told had been accidentally thrown away in the garbage by Global Crafts employees.

Despite all of this, when they sold the business to Tiffany last year, they recommended she continue buying from them. Tiffany placed an order let year, which has not yet been received.

Tiffany Kaplan told me that as the new owner of Global Crafts, the previous books with Artcamp had been permanently closed. She explained to me in a GMAIL that, as the new proprietor of Global Crafts, previous accounting were archived and not available to us, the supplier.  It’s odd the new owner is a woman who last year was a warehouse employee.

The 2018 sale of Global Crafts to Tiffany Kaplan has the appearance of a sham transaction with an evident intention of avoiding the settling of accounts with the Artcamp cooperative. This sale of a two million dollar business seems unusual. And this is the only reason Global Crafts has proffered when it declined to present only a normal commercial account-balance:

It is a universal practice in Taxco for suppliers and importers to run an account-balance.

At any given day, one or the other party is positive and the counterparty negative, as product, parts, cash, checks, wire transfers, exchange-rate adjustments, shipments, hand-deliveries, etc.;

Each entry is on a separate line, with its date and a short description (‘Concept’) and an
entry in either the plus or the minus column. In Taxco, this is normal balance accounting.

According to Mexican law, an employer can’t fire a long-time worker overnight without compensation. In Mexico, to treat people like this is not only illegal, it is highly immoral.

Global Crafts retains a legal obligation to liquidate their long-time labor relationship with the artisans of Tecalpulco and Taxco El Viejo …and to do this in the correct commercial manner.

She paid for the samples sent.

What? Outrageous! Tiffany Kaplan certainly did NOT pay for the samples she ordered,

I made those samples with my hands. When did she pay me? or offer to pay me for them?

When I inquired, she casually told me that they had been accidently thrown in the trash by Global Crafts employees while cleaning the warehouse! When I asked her to please return them to me, she did NOT offer to pay me, Again, the complete Global Crafts 2010-2019 GMAIL record will bears out all I am saying. Please have Tiffany Kaplan tell me to my face that she paid me for my work.

Also please ask Ms. Renice Jones to pay my brother for the work he did on the Double Hoop Earrings he made at her instructions in 2017. He was never paid for his work, nor for the materials he employed (.925 silver). I would bet that Global Crafts has not spent a penny paying an artisan for a product sample in their long lucrative history of ‘supporting cottage industry craftspeople in the third world’. Global Crafts buyers obviously expected to get these made for free, indicated as the required price to pay for staying on the good side of the buyer.

Creating an original model is not something one does in an afternoon, it’s more like a week, usually; however neither Renice nor Tiffany have never made jewelry in their lives and so lack  the experience to appreciate how difficult it is to make jewelry. These ladies drive back and forth to work in private cars, and they have never suffered as poor craftspeople do.

Chris no longer replies to their emails; he too has done all that he can (for several years), as did Renee, the former ED.

But, Fair Trade Federation Executive Director Chris Solt has never responded to my mails.

The first I sent was on December 18th 2017. I have sent several more formal letters since then, requesting that he allow me to present my credentials and for me to be heard. My letters were dispatched by MexPost and also by GMAIL.

The record will show that there has been NO reply from Mr. Chris Solt,
Executive Director of the Fair Trade Federation, he to whom I had applied.

If Chris Solt sent me a response, what was the date? Every letter I ever wrote to the
Fair Trade Federation features these two points: 1. Open dialog 2. Account balancing.

Unfortunately I suspect artisans are suffering as a result of the few leading this group.

What is the basis of this so-called “suspicion”?  WHY would you suspect this?
Do these “suspicions” come from of Renice and Kevin? Well, they are spurious,
To make such serious allegations, there must be some evidence presented. ¿No?

I don’t know that it would be helpful for me to get involved.

Dear Ms Patricia Pearson, honorable Board Chairman of the Fair Trade Federation:

It would be very helpful to us that you should become involved; we implore you and
we entreat you in the most polite way to let us tell our experience with Global Crafts

The G-MAIL record of Artcamp-Global Crafts 2010-2019 will speak for itself;

This will explain much of what we have to say. Its unfair to be judged without being heard.

With regards to whether you should order, I would proceed with caution.

What do you suggest as a solution for those craftspeople whom you believe to be “innocent”?

I wish I had more answers. I am confident, however that Global Crafts and the Fair Trade Federation have done all that they can for this group.

WHY is Patricia Pearson, the Fair Trade Federation Board Chair ‘confident’ that Fair Trade has “done all they can” for our group? These charges are based exclusively on verbal testimony of Kevin Ward and Renice Jones, the “former” owners of Global Crafts.

Once again, I respectfully request the Fair Trade Federation
to allow our side of what has happened to be heard.  Please!
We have never been allowed to present our side of events.

Respectfully, to the current board chair of Fair Trade Federation, Ms. Patricia Pearson.

Patricia Pearson

Fair Trade Sales

We shake the hands that farm the land.

Level Ground Trading
T 250.544.0932  TF 1.888.565.6633
www.levelground.com

Patricia Pearson, Board Chair of Fair Trade Federation,
PLEASE allow us to be heard!  Please do allow us this!
Follow your rational mind and loving heart, do the right thing
and we will all be friends collaborating to reform bad practices.

The Fair Trade Retailers should hold the Fair Trade Wholesalers and Fair Trade Federation to account. You retailers need to be very careful that what you are getting is authentic and doesn’t have Chinese commercial parts or common distress merchandise. The whole idea of Fair Trade is that the person who makes the piece should benefit and that is a great idea, one that ought to be featured by Fair Trade. Ms. Patricia, you are new in Fair Trade aren’t you?

The Artcamp cooperative joined the Fair Trade Federation in 1995
25 years ago, Connie d’Joong issued an invitation to our craftswomens’group.

Couldn’t we somehow return to the way Fair Trade was before? – back when Fair Trade Federation was clear and transparent and full of good will towards third world artisans?

We are appealing to you in the most correct possible way to allow us an opportunity to explain what has happened; please. Don’t rely only on the words of a certain few people.

In advance for your kind attention. Thank you!

Attentively,

Ofelia Estrada Bahena
ARTCAMP SC DE RL
“Artesanas Campesinas”
Tecalpulco, Guerrero, México

Hi Suzann,

My apologies for the slow reply. I’ve been for nearly two weeks at the FTF conference/vacation and also managing a political campaign.

I have spoke to Kevin, Renice, and Tiffany of Global Crafts, as well as Chris Solt, Executive Director of FTF regarding Art Camp.

You are correct in that there are several factions within Art Camp, and not all are well intentioned. Kevin and Renice, former owners of Global Crafts, purchased from Art Camp for many many years, and have been trying to support this group as best as they could. They’ve visited the group on several occasions to try to help them work out their challenges, and get to the bottom of the matter. They’ve spent countless hours on the phone. Unfortunately it appears nothing has changed.

The group increased prices (after orders were placed and paid for in full), demanded that Global Crafts increase orders years over year, and withheld orders. Despite the challenges, they continued to purchase from them, and paid the prices requested. Despite all of this, when they sold the business to Tiffany last year, they recommended she continue buying from them. Tiffany placed an order let year, which has not yet been received. She paid for the samples sent.

Chris no longer replies to their emails; he too has done all that he can (for several years), as did Renee, the former ED.

Unfortunately I suspect artisans are suffering as a result of the few leading this group.

I don’t know that it would be helpful for me to get involved.

With regards to whether you should order, I would proceed with caution.

I wish I had more answers. I am confident, however that Global Crafts and the Fair Trade Federation have done all that they can for this group.

Best,

Patricia

Patricia Pearson

Fair Trade Sales
We shake the hands that farm the land.

Level Ground Trading
T 250.544.0932

TF 1.888.565.6633
www.levelground.com

victoriaglobalvillage@shaw.ca

Apr 9, 2019, 11:00 AM
to me

Maria, we will only look forward in regards to Art Camp. There is no benefit in looking backwards.  You are the only one that is saying you are being condemn by Kevin.
Please let this go and move forward, YOU are destroying Art Camp

Suzann Albion

Victoria Global Village Store

527 Pandora Avenue

Victoria, BC V8W 1N5

Store:  250-380-1530

Office: 250-388-5591

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