What is ethically made or sourced? Fairly traded? I’m not so sure either as it’s very context specific and personal. I try to avoid those buzz words even if they are well-intentioned. What I do know is that everyone deserves to be compensated and valued for their labor.
One of Kaleido Collection’s values is artisan relationships in the form of fair pay and a collaborative design process.
Valuing artisans’ work and time is unfortunately not the norm for many of the things we consume and buy. Kaleido hopes to be a small part of that change along with many other like-minded organizations that seek to make just and dignified work the only acceptable practice. The artisans that Kaleido works with set their own wages that they can use to invest in themselves and their families and communities through autonomous decision making as opposed to through scholarships and mission driven programs that may have strings attached or make recipients feel indebted or inferior. That’s not to say that these sorts of programs are inherently bad – programs with close ties to local communities that have community buy-in can and do make a lot of sense and provide a multitude of opportunities and support, especially when there’s a lack of public services in place. But all too often outside organizations inadvertently dictate what’s best for others without always understanding local and cultural contexts. We believe that compensating artisans in local currency is the most dignified form of payment and support.
Kaleido also values our artisan relationships through a collaborative design process. Kaleido is very thankful for our artisan relationships because it’s meant that in many cases they are willing to try new ideas and also provide feedback on designs. By collaborating together on custom Kaleido pieces, the artisans are able to test out different designs and techniques essentially risk free. We are so grateful that they have been up for the challenge. Part of our hope is that apart from producing beautiful pieces for customers and supporters like you (and sharing what a beautiful place Guatemala is) is that our relationship will allow them to expand their markets and product offerings. By working on Kaleido products we hope this sparks new ideas that artisans can use to further develop their businesses if they choose.
The weaving cooperative with whom we work is a small example of exactly that. While Kaleido is a tiny customer account for the cooperative, it goes to show the power of social media and idea sharing. We posted our Piña Niña pineapple textile on Facebook and a woman contacted the cooperative to have a similar pattern made. New design variations can make a difference! If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities that are mutually beneficial for creative idea sharing with artisans, check out Kakaw Design’s Textile Travel trips.
As we continue to learn more and think critically about re-shaping status quo production models, we look forward to more collaborations and further building artisan relationships!