The cradle of Christmas baubles
Handmade baubles - Photo: Rodolfo AP/EL UNIVERSAL

The cradle of Christmas baubles

16/12/2018
13:56
Carlos Arrieta
Tlalpujahua, Michoacán
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In Tlalpujahua, around 2,000 families make a living by making baubles; they do the glass blowing, decoration, and commercialization

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A migrant from Michoacán needed to support his family: this is how the trade of making artisanal Christmas baubles became popular in this region last century. The activity generates an income for over 2,000 families in Tlalpujahua, Michoacán.

Eight years ago, the sales fell and they had to decrease their production, but now the bauble makers are getting ready to export and compete in the US market.

José Luis Muñoz Ruiz told EL UNIVERSAL that his father, Joaquín Muñoz was the person who brought the artisanal technique to make baubles to Mexico and since then, his family has preserved the tradition.

The 9 siblings Muñoz Ruiz kept “Adornos de Navideños” (Christmas Ornaments), which was founded in 1960 by their father and they later opened Santa Claus' House, Santa's Workshop, and the Christmas Village.

In Tlalpujahua, around 2,000 families make a living by making baubles; they do the glass blowing, decoration, and commercialization.

He recalled that his father controlled the Christmas ornament market in Mexico for many years and became one of the main suppliers in Mexico.

“In the 60s, we went from producing 1,000 to 3000 baubles the first year, and by 1970, we were producing 1 million, which were sold in Mexico City,” said José Luis.

José Luis says that since 1976 the company was able to position itself in the U.S. bauble market and the business grew and reached its climax in 2000 when they produced over 100 million baubles for the U.S. and Mexico.

That year, José Luis claims that Adornos Navideños controlled 20% or 30% of the baubles worldwide or at ones sold in the U.S., that was the main consumer.

“Chains like Walmart, K-mart, Sears and Woolworth, all sold baubles from Adornos Navideños,” he recalls.

Although, after 2000 the economic conditions in the world changed and Mexico lost two or three production lines, among them, were baubles, which forced the Muñoz Ruiz siblings to close Adornos Navideños and lower the production.

In the face of this situation, the family didn't give up and focused on innovating, in being more selective in the market, and direct their products to Tlalpujahua and the center of the country with artisanal designs.

José Luis explains that currently, they produce 4 million baubles per year, but these pieces are created under a different concept, favoring art, quality, and color.

Eight years after they stopped exporting their products, the Muñoz Ruiz siblings are ready to compete in the world's biggest Christmas decorations market: the U.S.

“We're going to find a very important niche in the market because we're capable of designing very pretty things, with intense colors that can transmit the personality and feelings of a Mexican family from Tlalpujahua,” he says proudly.

José Luis says that their unique and high-quality designs decorated the Christmas trees at the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel in 2016 and that in previous years they decorated places such as the White House, Los Pinos, and the Senate.
 

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