Demetria is an energetic mother, president of her Fundación Paraguaya lending group, and microentrepreneur who runs two home-based microbusinesses. One business, sewing bed sheets, is her bread and butter, while the other, a decorating service, is her passion. I first wrote about Demetria a few weeks ago, but have recently had the chance to get to know her better and join her on a couple decorating jobs.
When Demetria first started her decorating business 8 years ago, she didn’t even have the money needed to purchase materials for her first gig. Instead of being paid, she asked if she could keep the cloth and decorations purchased for the party as compensation. Her clients agreed and she was able to begin a small inventory of decorating materials.
Celebrations are an important part of Paraguayan life. As Demetria said, “With things how they are, people want to have something pretty once in awhile. Even people who are poor.” She does decorations for weddings, birthday parties, quinceañeras, New Year’s Eve dinners, school parties, and other special requests. Demetria has many loyal clients that she often decorates for. The pictures she displayed from her business photo album are impressive; colorful cloth regally draped around the room, ostentatious entryways with matching gift reciprocals, delicately decorated cakes on stands, and balloons galore.
There are also other business ideas in the works. In the future, Demetria would like to purchase an an enclosed inflatable trampoline to rent at parties. It would be a significant investment, but they are popular at birthday parties here. She plans to expand her sheet sewing business and open a taller de costura, or a sewing shop, in her home and hire 2 or 3 friends to assist. However, she needs to be able to take out larger loans to purchase additional sewing machines, and if she continues to stay in good standing with the Fundación she will be able to do so. Demetria and her husband would also like to open a dispensa, or store, in their home. Not just any dispensa, but one that would sell hard to find sewing machine parts and threads, as well as electrician parts. Oftentimes people in the neighborhood need such products, but they must travel to Asunción to purchase them.
Demetria’s work, creativity, and confidence is impressive, especially considering that she was only able to study until the sixth grade. Through her perseverance, her children are able to attend school much longer than she did. Her daughter is finishing high school and is studying to be nurse’s assistant and her young son plans to attend high school at a Fundación Paraguaya self-sustaining agricultural school. Through Demetria’s hard work and involvement in Fundación Paraguaya, as well as her husband’s support, they are able to continue to provide a better life for their family.