I'm excited to share images of this lovely new shipment of custom textiles that just arrived from the highlands of Southern Mexico. My artisan partner and I collaborated on this order for clients in Australia and Sweden. So happy with the new styles and textures for the cushions.
My growing business of artisan liaison work, retail client sourcing, product development and international marketing in this realm has proven to be an interesting experience.
The actual work is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes frustrating. I've been robbed by police, trawled through markets, homes and far-away pueblos for hours. I'm continuously navigating various dialects, wrestling with shipping inefficiencies and high prices for such, lack of wifi or tech connections in remote areas, and sometimes still come away empty-handed.
That said, I have a new appreciation for the pricing of handmade products in the consumer market, especially those businesses that sustain an ethical focus in order to maintain fair pricing and positive connections with their collaborative partners.
These crucial relationships with artisans take concentrated time and effort to cultivate. There are copious reasons why handmade works cost what they do – from invaluable artisan expertise, dedicated precious hours that go into sourcing, collaborating and production, along with the time and expense of international marketing. As the saying goes, if something is really cheap, someone was not paid fairly for their work.
Despite the challenges, this profession has allowed for new friendships, inspiring insight into process and tradition, and has also presented various opportunities that further move me on my independent path – far away from 9 - 5 desk work. I've even learned a few words in Zapotec. For that, even the odd robbery or misadventure is worth it.
Words and photos ©Ehren Seeland