Vietnam’s rapidly changing economy has left many traditional artisans struggling to survive. Au Lac Designs, based in Hanoi, helps these craftspeople develop and sustain successful small businesses by offering a crucial network of support. Artists can now become successful entrepreneurs while preserving their unique crafts with specialized training in all aspects of commerce, including design input, quality control, order management and marketing. As one of the most successful fair trade businesses in Vietnam, Au Lac helps artisans from all over the country use their skills and traditions to create exquisitely made silk bedding and clothing, lacquer work and sculpture.
Throughout the Indonesian island of Bali, small craft producers struggle to compete in a competitive marketplace. While demand is high for traditional Balinese craftworks, only large producers have the means and capacity to compete. To promote the unique arts of small artists and to combat their marginalization, nonprofit organization Mitra Bali works directly with producer groups, employing over 1,000 men and women, helping them to establish pricing and distribute their work throughout the world. In addition, Mitra Bali has set up a free design center for producers, including a library, education on the use of environmentally sustainable resources, consultations with product designers and monthly workshops. Mitra Bali markets its artisans’ silver jewelry, sustainable wood and bamboo products and one-of-a-kind ceramics.
CraftBeauty, a Gaiam fair trade partner, is helping Vietnamese men and women from two extremely marginalized groups gain self-confidence and retain their dignity. Working primarily with displaced rural farm workers and the disabled, this unique organization provides life-changing training in tailoring skills and fair trade principles. In addition to vocational education, CraftBeauty workers gain the emotional and housing support they need to start a new life and participate in Vietnam’s growing economy. Each CraftBeauty fair trade purse, tote and meditation cushion is beautifully crafted from intricately embroidered handmade fabrics from Vietnam’s
With over 19 million inhabitants, Delhi has nearly 10,000 people living in each square kilometer, many far below the poverty line. Since the early 1970s, Tara Projects has been supporting Delhi’s disadvantaged, often homeless, artisans to help them overcome the exploitation, poverty, illiteracy and slavery they face every day. Tara Projects uses fair trade principles to help organize the production and marketing of distinctly Indian handicrafts, including hand-embroidered ornaments decorated with glass beads, sequins and organza ribbons. In addition to helping these artisans learn and preserve traditional arts, Tara also addresses crucial personal and community needs such as vocational training, education, adult literacy and, most importantly, basic human dignity.
Learn how the simple act of acquiring a skill like sewing created a whole new future for one woman and her family in the slums of Delhi. Groups like Tara Projects helps disadvantaged women regain hope and dignity in the bargain. Read the article >
The rapidly changing economy and culture in Thailand has threatened to destroy the traditional, communal lifestyle of Northern Thailand’s rural hill tribe peoples. Thai Tribal Crafts, a Gaiam fair trade partner, was founded to seek to preserve this unique culture by helping local craftspeople market their creations. Working with local artisans, Thai Tribal Crafts promotes and sells traditional handicrafts from seven different hill tribe groups in about 50 villages. Through this unique outlet, villagers not only earn much-needed income, but they also gain a priceless renewed sense of self-worth by supporting themselves and their families with their traditional crafts. The handicrafts of Thai Tribal Crafts are as varied as the groups themselves, producing one-of-a-kind Hmong-style silk purses, stuffed-fabric ornaments and intricately embroidered and beaded Karen purse organizers.
With a name like HOPE, you know this is a company that produces inspiration! HOPE is a fair trade organization whose mission is to create clothing, jewelry and accessories with a focus on ethical wages and family support. HOPE’s artisans – ten hard-working women from all over Thailand – create quality pieces with the far-away-places look influenced by world travel.
Gina and Greg Hope founded the company in 2006 to celebrate the global community and provide a safe, comfortable place to earn a living in dignity. Today, the HOPE tailors and jewelry artisans represent four different hill tribes: Karen, Lawa, Hmong and Akha. “Together we laugh. Together we work. Together we sing. Together we hope.” Discover how HOPE provides inspiration.
Read Article about HOPE on Gaiam Life »
The BHcrafts project has provided a creative outlet and business training, as well as humanitarian and psychological support, for hundreds of refugee women in war-ravaged Bosnia and Herzegovina. These women, many of whom lost husbands, children, brothers and fathers in civil war, are empowered to use their traditional skills to reintegrate into a full life through creativity and personal ownership. Each BHcrafts product is a one-of-a-kind, handmade work of art created by traditional knitting, crocheting and weaving, creating practical and stylish knitwear and accessories and beautiful home décor inspired by traditional Bosnian patterns. Plus, every BHcrafts product features a label identifying the artist who created it, allowing the purchaser to put a real name to the artistry.