Avantva is a shared cosmetic manufacture project under the umbrella as a non-profit service cooperative. We have no knowledge of other projects like this in Catalonia.
It is an assembly cooperative so it reinvests its benefits in itself and its directive board do not receive any kind of salary.
Our cooperative values are based on the Social and Solidarity Economy, meaning that people are at the heart of our interests.
Currently, there are few shared workshop initiatives where cosmetic products can be developed. Ddue to the high demands that are requested by the health authorities and due to the high derived costs, this makes it very difficult for cosmetic artisans to be able to start up their own business following all the regulations and by themselves.
Avantva will accompany 20 women artisans into making their own project possible.
Description of the project. Main features, strengths and differentials.
Our workshop will be located in the wineries of the old farmhouse built in the 18th century. It is declared a local cultural heritage. The farmhouse is located in the centre of El Poal, a small village of around 600 inhabitants, in Pla d’Urgell, Lleida. Before, the villagers used to help one another a lot, especially during the harvest time. Elderly people from the village told us that since not everyone had the means, all the village’s grape was smashed in this farmhouse, and locals used to produce and store wine there. The farmhouse had lots of lands and the majority of the villagers worked there on a daily basis, so the doors of the farmhouse were always open. All the elders have good memories related to this farmhouse, so we want to bring back the good spirit to this building. We want the artisans to start to create there, we want people to move in and out, we want the farmhouse to be alive again. We also want to bring back the social cohesion power to the village, - the farmhouse used to be the symbol of community and mutual help.
We have a transversal project, which includes an artisan shared workshop, local selling point and cultural space, which will dynamise and transform the social interactions in the village.
We are pursuing our project of agri-food workshop and eco cosmetics workshop in the rural setting. There, entrepreneur women will have a solid opportunity to develop their own projects, running their businesses in a legal way without losing the artisan essence. Modern economy imposes strict requirements on the artisan businesses, which are identical to the requirements for the big industrialised productions. In our shared workshop, entrepreneur women will be able to produce in a sustainable way and to participate in a social and solidary economy.
We need to reform the ancient wineries’ zone to meet the needs of the workshops and storages. The building was constructed with rammed earth and the roof is covered with Arabic tiles. We want to preserve its historical character, and take advantage of its natural characteristics. All the reforms will be carried out in accordance with bioconstruction principles, using only ecological materials. It is crucial for us to use sustainable materials without toxic elements, so these are included in all the budget plans. Ecology is the top priority for our project.
Our vision is not only encompassed by our project. All the people who came together as Avantva share a set of values and principles that can be summarized in a form of declaration:
1. A space for cooperation and creativity. We are conscious of cooperative values, horizontal organization of labour and teamwork are our core principles. Co-creation of this space allows us to be creative and to support each other’s personal projects to empower each one of us.
2. A place to learn, teach and grow as humans. We want to grow as persons and as a community. We want to share our knowledge to build a better society, raise awareness and also to learn from each other.
3. A space to legalize our natural cosmetics’ products. Natural cosmetics form part of a sustainable lifestyle. It is necessary to certify our products according to all the requirements, so we can offer our products to the consumers.
4. To embrace the values of sustainability and cooperativism, which are so necessary nowadays. This is our way of consciously contributing these values to the world that we want to live in and to share these values with the next generations.
5. A space for developing joint entrepreneurs’ projects. This is the sort of things that occur naturally when talented women join and create together. In Avantva we will provide a space to elaborate, formulate and create together.
6. A dream we can build together. For us, it’s a project that started as a dream and now it is materializing. Many people have to give up on their projects because they cannot afford to have a workshop to certify their products. They have to be marginalised and they cannot develop their projects professionally. Together we can become visible and produce in a legal way!
7. A project that brings about territorial development. For us, our local impact is very important. We cannot achieve our goals without local support. Each of us decided to open the doors of Avantva for sharing our knowledge and experience with people and entities, who share our values. This way, Avantva becomes an exchange point. We will also set a selling point in our workshop to support other local products and cooperative organizations.
8. A project with social, environmental and economical responsibilities. Sustainability is one of the pillars that makes this project coherent. We don’t only look to make each individual project sustainable by sharing resources, we adapt this philosophy to all the dimensions of our work. We prioritise people, we use green energies and the principles of bioconstruction guide our project. We also believe in the importance of territorial dynamization as an impetus for social transformation.
9. A space to materialize our project and to minimize the ecological footprint. When contributing to this project not only you contribute to self-employment and cooperativism, but you also support the environment, since together we pollute less. In Avantva we will share the prime materials from sustainable sources, whenever possible from the local producers.
10. A place to professionalize our artisan business without losing its essence. For us, it is very important not to lose the artisan soul. Each one of us with her own project and her own knowledge carefully chooses ingredients and processes to provide the best final product made with lots of love. We put a part of our soul in each product, consciously made in small batches.
Definitely, a space to share, create and empower the community. We have a shared vision and strong values!
Why this is important
One day we woke up and Avantva already existed. Well no! But after that day we predicted that other good days like that one will come!
Behind Avantva there are many days of work individually and as a team. What you can see here is a result of hours and hours of thinking on how to shape the idea. There were other names and shapes but finally it ended up settling for its best version.
It was born as an individual project but its logical evolution made us undesrtand that it should be shared with other women in order to join forces and concerns with other people with similar realities and situations. And now, all these women walk together towards our common project.
Why are we called Avantva? Because it is an old word from Lleida that transmits strength and vigor, it means to go forward.
Avantva was born as an answer to a specific situation and finally gave rise to a non-profit cooperative.
Being a woman and being an entrepreneur is not easy. It seems like a cliché but it is so. If, morover, you decide to have family and children things get complicated. It becomes an odyssey to be able to be fullfilled both professionally and personally at the same time. And if you are a cosmetic artisan, you will need a great imagination to achieve your goals!
We all know that being an entrepreneur is difficult. The cosmetic artisans have some regulations and laws that do not contemplate this as a lifestyle. We assume that the demands and measures that are requested are out of our reach. That's why sharing is an option that allows us to reach our goal.
Avantva could be the summary for this imaginative idea that we propose, in order for 20 of the artisans in this position can get to elaborate our products in a sustainable way and being responsible with the environment. Our proposal is focused on the territory, also including all the proximity producers and the ethical values of the SSE (Social and Solidarity Economy).
Whom is this project for?
The project is growing and is changing its shape. It has three pillars that complement one another. In order to answer this question, we focus on three distinctive features of Avantnva.
- Shared workshops. The workshop is designated for the elaboration of natural cosmetics. It will serve the needs of the artisans, as they will be able to produce in accordance with all the regulations, and professionalize their business. We are looking to accomplish these long term goals:
- To establish a fair price on ecological cosmetics.
- To make the artisan production viable with small batches, so the artisan essence is preserved.
- To achieve the highest quality by sharing the supreme primary materials.
- To reduce the ecological footprint by the cooperative materials’ supply.
- Products made consciously in perfect conditions.
- A physical and online selling point. This way the craftswomen will be able to sell their products in our local shop and also in the cooperative web store. Our selling point will collaborate only with the cooperative’s craftswomen, local producers and those who take part in the social solidary economy. With this we are looking to achieve:
- Promote artisan products.
- Create consumers’ groups.
- Prioritise local producers.
- Raise awareness of sustainability issues.
- Food and cosmetics sovereignty.
- Multipurpose space. We are looking to dynamize the territory in social and cultural aspects. We want Avantva to be a place for the reunion of different local actors. We want it to be a place where the projects are born and the initiatives are developed.
- To become a meeting point for families and entities.
- To become an axis for territorial dynamization and social transformation.
- To be a place where initiatives get developed.
- To foment collaboration and cooperation.
- To support creativity, culture, art and education.
Team and experience
We are an excellent team with diverse qualifications. Our skills guarantee that this project is viable from the very beginning. Thanks to our previous experiences we are able to ensure that this project’s output will be of great value.
Esther. The soul of this project. She is trained in the field of Arts and Design and has always been working in the field of culture. She has worked as a freelancer abroad in art centres and in the Institute of Research on Identities and Societies, University of Lleida as a research technitian. She has also worked in the Cityhall with youth politics, developing cultural programs and social cohesion initiatives. Her task in this project is to coordinate and manage its different aspects: editing, slots allocation, dissemination and communication, and further on she will manage the functioning and coordination of the cooperative. She will accompany the craftswomen, manage the spaces and the technical support of the workshop.
Alfredo. He is an agro engineer specialised in the agro food industry. Now he is pursuing his educational goals (professional certificate in the Rovira and Virgili University) and he is also carrying on his engineering company called Asedeco. He is a key participant of the project. His qualifications are necessary not only in the technical sphere, but also in the field of creativity. He is in charge of the technical development of the project, and he will lead the construction and reform works. He will ensure that the character of the old building is preserved and that the work is carried out in accordance with the bioconstruction principles and renewable energies.
Natalia. Information Engineering graduate and Master of Sciences in Free Software Engineering. She was given a fellowship from ICEX (Spanish Exportation Institute) and worked in the foreign commerce department in the Spanish embassy in Oslo, Norway. She lived in Norway until 2017, and then she decided to come back to her roots and returned to Lleida. Now she is working in a cyber security company. Natalia has a great experience in IT, so she fits in the project perfectly with her skills and knowledge in the area of free software. She contributes to the internal management of the cooperative and develops IT instruments, such as web page, intranet and online shop.
The members of the cooperative, the craftswomen, also contribute their knowledge and skills to the development of this project. They are the key part of decision making and together they draw a map of Avantva. We are organized in different working groups where we allocate different tasks. Now we have the minimum number of craftswomen that allows this project to be economically viable. We are Laura, Dina, Consuelo, Tània, Paula, Anna, Maria José, Marta, Roxana, Pepa, Ángela, Amaia, Sònia, Sonia (we are two, yes), Esther…
There is also Ariadna, a chemical engineer, who has been our advisor from the beginning of the project. We sought her opinion when designing and allocating the spaces to reach the maximum optimization and to have all the necessary infrastructures. She has a broad experience in creation and management of the shared workshops, where she used to work for several years during her professional career. She will be in charge of homologization and permissions for the workshop, she will accompany the craftswomen and provide them with the technical consultations during the formulation of the new products. She will establish the good practice criteria and work regulations during the cosmetics preparation.
We have a powerful multifunctional infrastructure that will be developed into our future lab and workshop.
The cooperative will occupy two ancient warehouses that were built around the end of the 19th- beginning of the 20th century. The buildings are more than 4 meters high and are made of bricks. They were used to store vine and agrarian products (the part where the vine was made is still intact, - it has four vineries where the selling point was located). We have the advantage that both warehouses are close to the city centre, which is a pedestrian zone, and there is also a bus stop very near.
Equipment: nowadays the warehouses only have the structure. Although some interventions were made, as for example the annexe where the washrooms are located was built. There’s running water and optic fibre as well. Next, we are looking to rehabilitate and adapt each warehouse to the necessities of the workshop.
We are looking to introduce the card access to the installation instead of the usage of conventional keys. This choice was made to allow flexibility of the craftswomen and other entities that might use the workshop outside the working hours. This way we want to make the usage of the workshop adaptable to each one’s personal schedules.
On the other hand, bookings, space management, documentation’s referrals, etc., will be handled via the intranet, programmed and designed accordingly by one of our associates, Natalia. For this, we will use free software. The webpage, which is currently active, will be developed and actualized in accordance with the growing necessities, as for example, a necessity to introduce a users’ space or an online shop.
Our space is planned to be transformed into a workshop with two white rooms, - one for soap making and solid cosmetics with a dryer, and the other one for liquid cosmetics. These two rooms ensure that there is an opportunity to work individually with maximum availability. We’ll also have a room for individual and collective storage, wardrobe, weighing room, air conditioning rooms, an expo room, and a microbiology lab for basic testing before sending a product out for certification. The whole project is designed as a circuit and we are looking to optimize the resources. All the ecological materials that are allowed for the approval of the rooms will be integrated. The air exchange will be carried out twice an hour. We also have positive pressure installations for pathogens’ elimination included in the budget.
During this time Avantva recruited different agents necessary for the implementation of the shared workshop project. At this point, the cooperative itself has made different expenses in terms of fees, adaptation works project, activity project, technical reports, work