From January 30 to February 2, 2016, Aid to Artisans had the opportunity to have for the very first time two distinct booths at the Global Handmade section of NY NOW. This year’s winter edition was a great success and allowed many of our international artisans to take an unprecedented number of orders as well as to make lots of connections with international buyers and retailers. Our shimmering and colorful booths did an amazing job at attracting curious onlookers. Anyone walking through Global Handmade could not have missed ATA booth’s orange walls, and our multicolored skulls at the newly Idea+Materia booth.
New Year, New Booth:Idea+Materia’s Great Success
On Sunday January 31st, in the presence of Adriana Rodriguez Bates, Director General of Artisans at the state Tourism Secretariat and Creative Learning’s President Bill Kruvant, we officially inaugurated our new Idea+Materia booth. Idea + Materia combines the expertise and resources of the public, private and nonprofit sectors to advance Puebla’s artisans’ small businesses, and everybody was thrilled to see the fruits of this amazing partnership exposed at NY NOW. Funded by the State of Puebla (Mexico), Idea + Materia is an 18 month project seeking to provide 375 artisans from 25 towns in Puebla with an intensive training that builds their artistic and business skills, before connecting them with Mexican and international buyers. The booth #429 at NY NOW did just that. “This is very important for the State of Puebla because this is a platform where we can launch our artisans’ products, making them visible to the world,” explained Adriana Rodrigues.
During NY NOW, Adriana was able to speak about each community represented at the booth and also had the chance to meet with Global Girlfriend, an organization helping women worldwide gain economic security while providing unique products and a simple way to help women in need. Global Girlfriend is part of the Greater Good stores initiative, a network that offers the opportunity to support causes at no extra cost. Every purchase in their online stores gives a charity royalty from 5-30% to a specific worthy cause. This is also what NY NOW is about: connecting people who care and who are striving to make a change.
Designed by the international designer Mimi Robinson, products from 22 workshops were exhibited, from cross patterned hand woven baskets to modern designed potery. Throughout the event, 33 buyers made purchase orders, while over 110 American and European buyers expressed their firm intention to follow up and order in the near future. Our beautiful Palma baskets were at the center of attention, and more than 200 were sold! Many also fell in love with our glazed ceramics and bought over 150 pieces, making them the second best hit. Overall, thanks to the amazing energy of our staff and artisans in the booths, sales increased by 50% compared to last summer’s edition!
At the Heart of the Event: ATA’s Booth and Its Participants
The 2016 winter edition of NY NOW has been a great success for Aid to Artisans, thanks to the hard work of our team and our international artisans. Six countries were represented: Mexico, Tibet, Myanmar, Turkey, the West Bank and Nepal. All their amazing products allowed us to increase our sales by 10% compared to last winter, another proof of the growing impact of our continuous efforts to improve the lives of our artisans. We are very glad to have showcased the products from the following orga – nizations this winter:
Proud Mary: A socially conscious lifestyle brand that collaborates with traditional textile artisans around the world including Chiapas, Mexico. By combining a modern design aesthetic with traditional methods of production, Proud Mary bridges the gap between fair trade and on trend/fast fashion. This year, Proud Mary had a range of products including pillows, cotton tunics with embroidered necklines, hand spun wool capes with hand embroidered designs, colorful nylon net bags, and hand woven baskets which were very much enjoyed by many handmade products enthusiasts!
Ara Collective: A brand that collaborates with artisans including the Mayans in Chiapas to curate handcrafted pieces, blending traditional craftsmanship with modern style . This collective of artisans creates timeless pieces that tell their stories. The product of their sales provides above fair wages for the artisans, education scholarships for their children and health care in their communities. Ara Collective’s beautiful and warm scarves with intricate and beautiful hand embroidered designs were very appropriate for New York’s snowy and cold weather, and many buyers loved these stylish pieces that can also be used as throws or tablecloths.
Artemateria: As a 2013 MRP alumni, Artemateria came to NY NOW with some substantial experience and background, and is a vivid example that hard work pays off. This organization’s goal is to support Mayan artisans in Chiapas who integrate their millinery techniques into handmade products that are high quality, unique, environmentally friendly and functional. They are proud to call the resulting products avantgarde with a soul, faithful to the people that gave it form and in harmony with their traditions and surroundings. Artemateria displayed a wide range of products on ATA’s booth, including their beautiful handmade palm leaf baskets and natural fiber bowls. Artemateria’s third year at NY NOW was by far their best one, as they took a remarkable amount of orders, among which a recurring one for Calvin Klein. ATA is thrilled to continue to support this organization on its way to success.
Child’s Cup Full: A 2015 MRP Alumni, Child’s Cup Full is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to leverage the talent and expertise of women artisans in the West Bank to create beautifully handcrafted educational children’s toys and other handmade products. They train and employ refugee and low income women in their artisan center of Zababdeh, a small village in the northern West Bank, and aim to create lasting economic opportunities for them as well as their families and communities. For their first exhibition, Child’s Cup Full’s products brightened ATA’s booth even more , with interactive toys for kids to learn the alphabet the fun way, or beautiful handmade shoes or necklaces for women to be stylish the conscious way.
Dropenling: Based in Tibet, this social enterprise seeks to provide sustainable, longterm solutions to the promotion and preservation of Tibetan culture. Dropenling’s mission is to improve skills, knowledge and resources for Tibetan artisans so that they can preserve their heritage, create high quality and innovative products, and earn income and recognition. Their collection of unique and colorful dolls, toys and puppets were a wonderful addition to the ATA booth.
Chin Chili: With its fusion of traditional weaving techniques and modern textile design, Chin Chili exhibited beautifully woven textiles, table runners and purses crafted by artisans in Myanmar.
Soma Artisans: Residing in the mining Turkish town of Soma, Soma Artisans, an initiative of Anatolia Artisans, which is a non profit organization based in Bethesda, provides economic opportunities for women in that region. Soma Artisan’s amazing handcrafts, including puppets and colorful marionettes, completed perfectly the stunning collection of products from all over the world that were displayed on ATA’s booth.
This Nepali organization was built to create sustainable solutions to support and empower its artisans, and works with women from Maithil culture in the Janakpur area. Their genuinely handmade products imprinted with their souls and traditions brought a unique touch to our booth #259 at NY NOW.
We also had the great pleasure to welcome many special guests to our booths this year: including the renowned Clare Smith, founder of Aid to Artisans and Alfredo Espinosa, former Aid to Artisans president, who all shared with us their memories and their ever continuing passion for artisans’ work.
ATA News & Events
Please stay tuned for next month’s Newsletter where you will find more exiting news on the progress of our artisans, ATA’s continuing projects and more. Also stay tuned for more information on the Market Readiness Program (MRP): a unique hands on training experience for all those associated with the artisan sector, which will held from August 20-24 at NY NOW. We want to sincerely thank you all for your continued support and we look forward to attending NY NOW again in August 2016. If you are interested in attending NY NOW as an exhibitor in our booth, the MRP or just as a good ATA friend, please contact us here.