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International Craft Trade With Integrity

Case studies, Codes of Practice, Markets, Marketing, Trade

International Craft Trade With Integrity: Maiwa as Model

Jongeward, Carolyn

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To improve the situation for many artisans worldwide, there is a need for more international craft traders with integrity. Maiwa is one such trading company. Since 1986, working with artisans primarily in India, they have developed an exemplary trading model that is having a positive impact for artisans. Maiwa has two stores and a studio Vancouver, British Columbia, and a recently built facility in the village of Bagru, Rajasthan. Charllotte Kwon, founder of Maiwa, discussed the work they do to establish healthy trade relations with artisans: following are highlights from an interview, and quotes from Kwon, that reveal Maiwa’s basic principles and approaches.
MAIVA'S PRINCIPLES
Respect: Craft is a center of culture and community identity and a source of creative pride. But artisans are not honoured enough and pride in craft is lost. Craft producers, especially the women who are not often honoured, need to be respected. As well, retailers who represent the craftwork – usually women subject to minimum wage – need to be recognized. “The intelligence, skill, and professionalism of these people should not be underestimated.” Craft and community building: Artisans have a vital role in community building; they depend on each other and work socially instead of independently. Although business structures in the West – and around the world – encourage people to work independently and be competitive, this approach does not work for craft. “The desire to work together socially is a sign ...

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