How a former Business Attorney became the only business owner to build a market between artisans in Tajikistan and the U.S.
For 31 years, Rikki Quintana work as a practiced Business Attorney. When she retired, Rikki never imagined that she would one day start and own a company, working to bring quality hand-made products from Central Asia to the U.S. retail market. As a “recovering” Business Attorney, Rikki started volunteering with a local organization in New Mexico that facilitates professional exchanges with delegates from around the world. It was in 2014 when Rikki met Bakhriddin Isamutdinov, who works in eco-tourism and handicraft promotion in Tajikistan. During the exchange, Rikki learned that there was no one in the U.S. working to build a sustainable market for artisans in Tajikistan. Without hesitation, Rikki decided that she would be the person to do it; founding the fair-trade organization Hoon Arts.
In her first year, Rikki worked hard to build the base of her organization, establishing reliable shipping methods, purchasing initial inventory, developing her website, and even participating in a few local shows in New Mexico. “After setting the foundation, I wanted to work on refining my product selection and expand into retail and wholesale.” Through a conversation from Aid to Artisans Director Monika Steinberger, Rikki joined the flagship training program, the Market Readiness Program (MRP) in 2016. The intensive program combines one-on-one mentoring and training to prepare emerging entrepreneurs and artisans to export to the U.S. Retail Market. “The MRP was a huge step forward! I didn’t know how to use color and product design to create desirable collections. I really learned how to create and work with artisans in a sustainable way that would also appeal to the U.S. market.”
Since 2016, Rikki has launched a new website, become a member of the Fair Trade Federation, and expanded into trade-shows outside of her home state including the Las Vegas Market through the TEAM mentoring program. Hoon Arts has sold to countries in four continents and has built sustainable buyer relationships, including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. A member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Rikki also works to share her knowledge and insight with other emerging business owners.
Consumers globally are looking for more than just a product. In a world where almost anything you could desire can be obtained with a click of your mouse, people are searching for the person-to-person connection that once dominated commerce. When Hoon Arts was founded, Rikki ensured that her company would go beyond selling products. Empowering artisans, paying fair wages and sharing their vibrant stories with her customers has always been at the forefront of her business model. Even before becoming Fair Trade Certified, Rikki followed the Fair Trade Federations standards for socially and environmentally responsible business practices. The artisans she works with, and their stories are the “heart and soul” of her company. Today Hoon Arts works with over 100 artisans in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan created inspired collections of scarves, bags and more!