What is Our impact when we shop artisan made?
Roughly 3,500 miles away resides the members of a seemingly invisible group of talented artisans. Their creativity and commitment to designing sustainable products can be seen in every thread of the fabric. Making a handmade product is rewarding for the weavers, such as Elizabeth who believes "the end of each piece gives me a desire to keep creating because I see how beautiful it is".
It was not long ago that Living Threads Co. founder Amanda Zehner was introduced to this incredible Nicaraguan family cooperative. Starting with a simple idea of empowering men and women artisans by facilitating access to sustainable markets, Living Threads Co. was born. Before the cooperative's partnership with Living Threads Co. the average monthly income was $80. Today the income has increased to $300 thanks to roughly 80% of business derived from Living Threads Co. As weaver Danelia explains, "we have had many more orders and better income, the partnership improved our economic situation". The concern over food, education, health, and a stable income has decreased. In the past when the family wanted to buy raw materials they would forgo meals in order to purchase cotton. Their house did not have windows or doors, and the floor was only dirt. Trash lingered outside, and the family had to make difficult decisions choosing between food and medical care. After the increase in income and demand for work, the family takes pride in the appearance and maintenance of their home. Now they can enjoy more quality time together as well as little luxuries such as eating out at restaurants.
Living Threads Co. has a triple bottom line, and commits to environmental preservation, social justice, and economic development. The beautiful products are created without any machines, very little electricity, no fuel, using only the artisan's energy and hands. The traditionally male-dominated labor force meant women in Nicaragua only made up about 47%. The partnership with Living Threads Co. provides the woman-led artisan cooperative with year-round employment and income. Through micro-credit and training programs, 10% of profits are re-invested in artisans and their growing businesses. Continued support and sales from you, our valued customers, has allowed Living Threads Co. to achieve its goal of preserving artisan traditions, improving livelihoods and showing that Nicaragua is not only a poor country but that they produce beautiful things.
The need and potential of the global artisan market is huge. The impact we can have together on the lives of individuals, families, futures and art is limitless. Help us to grow our impact by investing in our mission and filling your home and friends with hand crafted goods with a soul and a story.
Written by Shannon Chaney, Devin Mack & Amanda Zehner
Photos by Amanda Zehner