Reflections after a visit to the Talavera region of Spain

Spanish talavera is on the ropes, taking some heavy punches.  After several trips to the talavera region of Spain, I have gained some impressions.  First, there is a lot of very beautiful talavera ceramics.  In general, the artistry is unmatched in Spain, across an industry.  Since the onset of the world wide economic crisis, business has slowed in many sectors in Spain.  That is true for the talavera industry.  Over the last 6 years, factories have downsized to the point that most of the businesses are staffed with family members, with painting teams composed of 1, 2 or 3 regular painters.  Lots of time off for everyone, and hunger.  In general, the businesses have zero capacity to market themselves.  They sit and wait for business to come to them.  There is no industry cooperation as far as I can see.  Instead of trying to improve outreach, there seems to be an unhealthy competition for the remaining bones of business lying around.  I talked with one manager about how the factory might approach entering into the US market (or a larger market).  She immediately started to tell me how things are done.  I expected some flash of new or an openness to ideas.  Nada.  Old school all the way.  Some businesses get in a rut and it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, etc.  There is a new generation coming along, but in the meantime with old school management guiding business, there will be a lot of sparse tables and talavera workshops going out of business.  A key to success for the Spanish talavera business will to get good off shore customers, that have access to a larger markets.  They cannot depend only on the national market for their livelihoodsImage.

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