“So how do you find these people?” This is a question I am often asked about my Makers and my answer is simple: It takes a lot of time, resources, networking, searching and travelling. It’s not easy.
As an enterprise, I know my business model goes against my business instincts. It is so much easier to source beautiful jewellery from China, which is where most jewellery comes from anyway. All identical shiny pieces, made by faceless people in unknown locations. But then, how comfortable would I be with my choices? When we believe in something, we are driven by a purpose and our actions then must navigate the difficulties and challenges that come with our choices. At Finders and Makers we know our hard work is worth every bit of energy we pour into our enterprise.
Just a few weeks ago I was reflecting on International Women’s Day, thinking that although a lot has been achieved in the last century, there is still work to be done when it comes to providing financial sustainability to women. There are many places around the world, where women with an abundance of skills are supressed, as is their desire for creative expression and decision making - sometimes by law, other times by culture.
When we source ethical Fairtrade products in developing nations, from women led enterprises and from women Makers, our impact is far greater. You can read here why money in the hands of women creates economic empowerment.
It is well documented that income in the hands of women benefits the family, the children and grows economies. So, it makes us really proud to put in the work we do to find and work with incredible artisans who hand make every item you find at Finders and Makers.
I have recently connected with a new group of artisans and I would love to share my journey with you. These apprentice artisans are based in Cambodia and are working their way through a two-year silver smithing course, a traditional skill that is being brought back to life in the country. Access to this education is possible thanks to the generous support of an Italian Foundation that provides a salary, meals, accommodation, basic education and skill training.
All students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have little or no literacy skills, have grown up in an orphanage and some have to deal with a disability. The challenges for them are great, so much so that it makes our sourcing challenge seem miniscule.
Over the coming weeks, I will share the journey behind what it takes to bring our beautiful jewellery and accessories to you. But not just any jewellery – our products are items that are carefully selected for how beautifully they are made and how great the impact of their continued existence will be on the makers and their community.
What I have seen so far from the Cambodian silver smithing students is magnificent and I am very excited to meet them and make their products available to you.
Because how you look is only half the story.
Until next time,
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Photo credits in order of appearance: Chase Clark, Stephane Hermellin, Il Nodo, Il Nodo, Sofia Sforza