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Artisan stories from around the world

May 03, 2019

This year for World Fair Trade Day, we'd like to highlight a few stories from the artisans themselves that showcase the reasons why fair trade is important.

We build partnerships with artisans, cooperatives, and fair trade organizations worldwide.  The artist receives a fair return for their effort, and you in turn obtain a hand-crafted item of beauty and originality that is sure to be cherished. With the purchase of these items, you are supporting a process that brings dignity to a people’s struggle for economic independence. 


Angela's Story

“I became co-administrator of UPAVIM in 1993. It was the end of the year in December, and with my first paycheck I was absolutely overjoyed. I was in the clouds. Because I had money and since it was close to Christmas, I could buy new clothes for my children. Before, I didn’t have anything so this was a great experience for me to have a great Christmas. [Working at UPAVIM] changed my life and gave me the opportunity to have scholarships for my children up until sixth grade. I have travelled to parts of the United States for work. I have met lots of good people and made lots of friends. And I think that it helped us. It helped me buy a house with walls and a roof over our heads, which isn’t easy for a woman usually. So for this, I’m grateful to God and grateful for UPAVIM…it’s our home.

“UPAVIM’s products are a craft. A true craft--they are art. And I’m totally marveled at [what we produce]. I always say to the ladies that their work is a transformation. When the women come to collect their bags of material and come back with finished products, it’s so lovely. But, what I like is knowing that the people who buy our products directly help that woman change her way of life. And not just that woman--it helps the community, it helps the children, it helps other women and it helps the families. And it makes me feeling amazing to know that they know that it’s helping people and that they like the quality of our products. I think UPAVIM is a fountain of opportunity. In reality, UPAVIM is a change of life for all of us. Like I’ve said and like everyone says, it’s in our name—UPAVIM: for a better life. That is exactly what it is. I believe in this…my life has changed so much. UPAVIM is an opportunity for all of us and for all the children. The people who buy from us, they all allow us to do this work. And for that, I’d say UPAVIM is a great gift for this place.”

--Angela, UPAVIM Crafts

Chantha's Story

"I don’t have any siblings. My mother died when I was 4 years old, and my father was killed when I was 8 years old by a notorious Khmer Rouge soldier. It was a terrible time for me. I was only a young child and didn't realize my father was dead. I begged him to wake up, but he never answered me.

I started learning jewelry making from the age of 14 years at the Skip Organization (orphanage center). Through purchases made through Craftworks Cambodia the  artisans’ lives are getting better. The fair trade practices give us fair pay for our work. I am able to work from home; I have more freedom and independence. I also have more time to take care of my daughter"

--Chantha, Craftworks Cambodia

Read the full interview here

Matr Boomie Artisan's Story

"I've been practicing this art for the last 10 years but we never felt such support as we do working with you. With other exporters, they will request a big order but until we send the very last piece they will not give us a dime. Even after completing the order we’re not sure if we will ever get paid. Sometimes they will hold the payment for two months and only pay 10%, 20%, 40% at a time. But this problem is solved now working with you."

--Anonymous Artisan, Matr Boomie

Watch the full interview here

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