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To Be or Not to Be (Purposeful AND Beautiful): The Value of Artisans

Artisan made and fair trade textiles used by Thread Spun to make handmade surfboard bags.
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Before I started Thread Spun, I heard the word "artisan" thrown around all the time. Whether it was "artisan cheese" or "artisan bagels" or "artisan furniture", it seemed to me that the term had become somewhat superfluous, and I actually started feeling turned off by it. This was pretty much cemented when Domino's Pizza launched an artisanal pizza line. Huh? The term artisan was quickly becoming devoid of any meaning. As I delved into building a social enterprise that is rooted in artisanry, I've clearly reevaluated my opinion.

Here are a few things I've learned that have turned me into an avid believer of the inherent value in true, artisan-made goods.

  • An artisan is a worker in a skilled trade that makes things by hand, typically in non-mechanized ways and using high-quality materials.
  • Artisans seek to create something functional that imbue aesthetics and artistry. Artisan-made goods serve a purpose and have intrinsic value.
  • Artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world, so supporting the growth of artisan industry in these countries has the potential for leaps in the socioeconomic status of millions of people.
  • More than 65% of artisan activity takes place in developing economies, and thus, true artisanry gives us insight into the cultures of diverse places around the world, and allows us to appreciate their unique crafts.
  • Artisanry around the world is threatened by the proliferation of factory-produced and machine-made goods that are of lesser quality.
We invest in artisan textile cooperatives and industry around the world so that we can create jobs, increase the incomes of vulnerable people and raise standards of living, and promote the preservation of cultural heritage. Each of our handmade surfboard bags lifts people up while protecting your surfboard and being pretty. So, the next time you see something made by artisans, give it a second look. Unless its from Domino's, in which case you may want to keep walking.

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