Not only celebrating a milestone for us, but probably also a turning point for many of us as we come to appreciate much of what couldn't be and look at many aspects of our lives with a different lens. Maybe it's led us to re evaluate what's important to us, become more aware of the world around us and our relationships not just to our families, friends and local communities, but also to those in other parts of the world and to reflect on our interconnectedness.
What a perfect opportunity to re visit what drives us to do what we do - what is our brand purpose?
It really comes down to one thing - the central common thread is people. The artisans and everyone we've gotten to know and rely on throughout our entire supply chain and right down to you: Our customers and supporters of what we do and stand for: High quality handmade home decor pieces created in collaboration with artisans to support their traditions and contribute to creating a sustainable lifestyle for them - Products with a Purpose.
Behind each product we make is a person who has worked painstakingly over several hours and sometimes days to make the unique pieces you hold in your hand. Unique because a set of hands, not a machine is behind each piece. Hands and eyes are what guide the placement of a stitch, the final feel and shape of a basket, the rhythm of the looms, the muscle behind the printing with a block and the skill of hand carving the design in the block itself.
Behind each product is a wealth of knowledge. Traditions which have been passed down from generation to generation through heirlooms, stories, dance and song. Artisans are the guardians of traditional knowledge which we have to preserve as embodiments of culture lest it disappears due to the prevalence of machine made products.
Behind each product is a collaboration - a celebration of people and their culture. Though we provide ideas for design and colors the final product is a collaboration influenced by the capabilities of the craft. Limited by colors, patterns and techniques. We learn to appreciate the art and meaning behind each traditional motif and pass this information on to you, enriching everyone in the process . We collectively become patrons of the craft. And the process repeats itself giving the opportunity for new, younger artisans to learn a craft which will enable them to earn their own livelihood and helping to prevent economic migration. To become their own agents of change.
Behind each product is a family and a community - a whole ecosystem which benefits directly or indirectly from the sale of their products to us. We buy all of the pieces which we order upon delivery. This means that there are no risks to the artisan groups themselves. We collaborate, sample, order and pay them what they are due for the work that they do.
We work in the craft sector which is estimated to be the second largest employer of women in the developing world, after agriculture. Many of these women work from home. For women, many of whom may be prevented from working outside the home by family responsibilities or cultural norms, working from home means additional opportunities. Their earnings are theirs and women are known to put family first ensuring that they will reinvest in the education and health of their children. Education and keeping children, particularly girls, in school has been proven to have a direct effect on health, reducing population growth and alleviating poverty.
Working from home means no need to commute. Less time spent commuting means more attention can be paid to family and to looking after the household. It also means not being exposed to the threats some women still have to face on their way to work. Home also usually also provides a cleaner air environment than working in a factory.
We work in small batches which means less waste.
We provide a link to new markets. When possible we travel to meet with the artisans we work with.
We work with guidelines developed in the NEST Standards for Homes and Small Workshopsto guide our conversations with the artisan groups we collaborate with.
That's us at Artha Collections, a small player in a much larger ecosystem. One where brands are becoming more committed to making products which have less of a negative impact on the planet and giving consumers a choice by making their supply chains more transparent.
How can you play a part?
Think conscious consumption. Yes we all still want to consume, but let's do it from the perspective as citizens of the planet. Look for companies that produce under fair conditions fair to the planet and fair to its stakeholders - which means fair to you and to all of us as well.
Look beyond the label. Do some research into your favorite brands and if you don't find the answers then write them and ask.
Look for standards and certifications. These are often only available to larger brands as they are time consuming and expensive to obtain, but they can help guide your choices.
Listen to the stories brands tell and demand transparency.
Look for quality and timeless design. This might mean paying a bit more, but a quality design is made to last!
Particularly with fashion items ask yourself whether you really need the item and how often you think you'll wear it.
There's a lot of new technology out there up cycling "waste" products such as plastic into new materials or using textile waste to create new pieces/products. It's part of the movement towards a circular economy. Read all about it!
We're sure that there's so much more so please feel free to reach out and share your suggestions!
To sum it up we leave you with a quote:
"It isn't enough to look for quality in the products we buy we must also ensure quality in the lives of the people who make them"
Orsola de Castro