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Shopping: From the earth, to your hands
Pablo Antinao dangles a pair of earrings between his thumb and forefinger. They’re silver, with pendants of bright red glass, and if you were a girl and wore earrings, it might be the type of thing you’d buy. Especially for the $15 he’s asking.
“But the special thing is that someone made this,” says Antinao, whose store, Rustica Kollection, opened at the Iron Bird Lofts last month.
He’s not talking about a worker in a factory somewhere. He’s talking about an artisan, someone who labored to create each piece by hand. So, even if two sets of earrings look similar, they won’t be the same.
That’s sort of the point of Rustica.
“Nothing is perfect,” says Antinao, who grew up in Chile before coming to the United States and settling in Fresno.
“We should embrace that.”
The store is based on the ideas of fair trade and sustainability and everything it carries — jewelry and accessories, clothing, coffee, soaps — was chosen with those values in mind. It is something that has been percolating in Antinao’s mind since his time as a social worker in Chile. He was living on bio-dynamic farm and working with local communities and realized that the politics of it didn’t help support the people.
“Creating a business seemed to be a more powerful thing,” he says.
So Rustica supports small, family businesses that in turn support the infrastructures of their communities.
It's holistic retail.
And though the store has a world flavor, the idea is not just international, Antinao says.
There are products from India, Kenya, Easter Island and Peru, but he also works with companies from California, Oregon and New York. What they have in common is that they are a dying breed in today’s global world. In a real sense, small businesses can’t work with corporations without becoming corporate themselves. These artisans know their craft, but can’t get into large retail stores, because their production levels are so low. That makes Rustica, and stores like it, important, Antinao says.
“If we don’t support these products, they will disappear.”