“We are happy to have a product that is new, sustainable, and full of life”

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“In an age of globalization and artificial intelligence, we promote local craftsmanship,” says Nancy Montealegre, co-founder and Director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Montehappy. Montehappy is a Colombian producer of handmade ecological pots and baskets for indoor use that not only seeks to contribute to sustainability but also the empowerment of women. In this article, Nancy tells us more about these products and Montehappy.

Nancy Montealegre, co-founder and Director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Montehappy

The beginnings of Montehappy
Nancy tells us how Montehappy developed from a pot roses project: “We started to produce our ecological pots for a special project of pot roses. I have always been working in flowers farms. In 2018, I was working for Alexandra Farms, one of my functions was to locally sell beautiful pot roses. These plants were absolutely beautiful, but the pots we used weren’t; I was always fighting about how to sell them. One day, my husband and my sons did some pot trials with the leaves of the bananas that we cultivated at our family farm. When they showed me the pots, I really loved them. I remember that I showed some pictures to an organic supermarket called Boho in Bogota (Colombia), and they immediately ordered 100 units of pot roses with our ecological pots made from banana leaves. We quickly hired women and taught them how to craft these pots, that was the beginning of Montehappy.”

Some of Montehappy’s products

Artesian work, sustainability, and local businesses
Nancy stresses that Montehappy’s products are local, natural, and sustainable, saying: “Today, we live in a hectic, globalized world, and we see the rise of artificial intelligence. In these times, Montehappy wants to highlight the worth of ancestral practices and values. We are happy to have a product that is completely new, sustainable, and full of life. We use banana leaves and other ecological and biodegradable materials to manufacture our pots and baskets. Unlike similar companies we stay away from the practice of deforestation, I think it’s something that makes Montehappy stand out. Moreover, the dry leaf of the banana plant is typical of our Colombian culture. Through using this raw material, we can support small local businesses in two ways. Firstly, we purchased the banana leaves from Colombian peasants, which allowed them to generate additional income. Secondly, our handmade products are made by Colombian women. By providing them with a job, they can support their families.”

Right: Women making Montehappy products by hand, left: A Colombian peasant with the dry banana leave

Achievements, challenges, and ambitions
Although Montehappy started offering one pot size and one pot shape, they currently offer more sizes and shapes. Nancy elaborates: “The market was requiring other sizes and shapes, and we are always trying to provide what the market needs. We sell our pots and baskets to importers, nurseries, and florists, especially florists. We are glad that florists are passionate entrepreneurs, when they realize that our pots are sustainable, they buy them.” Another success was Montehappy’s participation at Proflora 2023, She states: “To have our own boot at the IFTF in the Netherlands was great, I think I can say that is our main achievement so far. We make great efforts to market all our resources.”

Nancy Montealegre exhibiting for the first time at the IFTF 2023 in the Netherlands (right), and Nelson Portilla exhibiting at Proflora 2023 in Colombia (left)

Not everything has been easy for Montehappy, they had to fight their way to into the market: “Our crafting cost and the cost of ecological materials are higher than that of other companies in the industry. So, it was a true challenge to introduce our product in the market. We have overcome this challenge by investing in marketing and by directly showing our products to our clients. Being a small company that offers a new product, it was far from easy to get the required export permits. The Colombian entities delayed our permit, yet after a few years of patience and a lot of persistence, we eventually managed to get these permits,” she explains.

Nevertheless, there is still room for growth, she says: “I would like to sell more of our product, and the demand is not as high as we want. Our goal is to have weekly orders so that we can continue to support our employees. We seek to grow gradually in line with the expectations of our clients. As our product is unique and completely new, we realize that we have great potential to do so. Montehappy will grow step by step.”

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