We're proud to feature products from many talented artisans across the globe. Here are a few of their stories.
"[Growing up] there was not enough money in my homestead for me to finish high school. We also grew up with no access to clean water, which made life difficult as we had to grow crops with dirty river water which made us sick. I was always sick… Now I have money to cater to my family's needs. There is no suffering now." Life had its challenges for Sbongile Zwane growing up in rural Swaziland. Selling her beautiful handmade crafts has allowed Sbongile to greatly improve the quality of life for herself and for her family, including allowing her to send her children to school. Sbongile is now a peer educator who helps educate her community on HIV/AIDS prevention and provides grief and gender based violence counseling.
"I'm the third generation of silversmith… My grandfather was one of the first smiths in Celuk, and the tradition was continued by my father. My passion for silver jewelry started when I was still in elementary school. I learned after time if the passion is there, it can support your life." Kadek was born in Celuk, Bali, Indonesia, a village with a tradition of making beautiful silver products. Kadek's passion for silversmithing started as a boy learning the family business from his grandmother . Working for his father in the family silver shop allowed Kadek to earn enough money to attend college. After graduating from college, Kadek decided to start his own jewelry company where he designs and oversees the jewelry production and is now able to employ other artisans like himself.
"I grew up in a village surrounded by bamboo and thought to myself, 'I can make a living making bamboo products.' When I started the business 25 years ago, not many people knew or wanted bamboo products. After years of trying, people from the US and Europe began to like bamboo and keep me in business. I would like to be remembered by people as a good person who produced jobs in my village for people who have no jobs. Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. Always living and working and making best of yourself."
Van Bin Nguyen is a great example of perseverance and entrepreneurship. At the age of 20, Van started a bamboo company with the intent of providing employment for people in his community. In the beginning, Van tried to sell his products in his home country of Vietnam with little success. It was not until he expanded his market access through avenues like Worldstock that he was able to achieve his goals.
"Hello. My name is Raju, and I am from the Churu district of Rajasthan. We moved my family to Jaipur for better earning opportunities. I am delighted and proud to contribute to my family income. I have three children, aged 7-11 years. Though I'm illiterate, as my parents couldn't afford to teach me, I'm proud to send all three of my children to school. From a small age, I started working in the farms, so I understand the importance of education and I want my children to become good professionals on growing."
"My name is Choti. I work on stitching, tassels, and any kind of finishing for the textile products that are made here. I get the opportunity to showcase my art and take it further. I get to express my creativity and make beautiful products. I have children, and I work so that they can have a better life. I want to get them educated so they become good citizens. My work and the confidence that it gives me is the most fulfilling."
Women like Raju and Choti are members of Handmade Expressions, an artisan cooperative of 272 women creating socially and environmentally responsible products. Working with the artisans in India, they strive to improve the artisans' economic conditions and social standing while also encouraging them to use recycled materials and natural fibers. Handmade Expressions goes the extra step to inform the artisans about global fashion and market trends, so these local artists are able to produce goods that are desirable and contemporary.
Life in many rural villages in the Middle East can be very challenging. People living in these communities often lack access to electricity, education, and many of the basic necessities of life. Herat Oriental works with rural villages throughout the Middle East and Asia to provide employment for traditional rug weavers. Many of the weavers with whom Herat Oriental works are women who work to make additional income for their families. With the additional income made from rug sales, these women provide electricity for their families, send their children to school, and improve the quality of life for many in their community.
High in the majestic Andes Mountains lies the beautiful town of Baños. Here, a group of local artisans design and craft one-of-a-kind products utilizing the beautiful fabric and colors of the region. These artisans hand-weave 100-percent llama, sheep, and alpaca wool into beautiful clothing, shoes, and coats using traditional techniques that have been passed down for centuries. Groups like ANDIZ and Worldstock allow artisans like these to make a living through their unique cultural identity.