Many companies who work with artisans in far away places, like Local + Lejos, will tell you about how their collaboration generates a better life for the workers, their families, and the local community.
And you’ll likely also hear how it provides a steady income for things like better accommodation, paying school fees and supporting their extended family (to name a few).
But what you might not hear much about are some of the more unexpected aspects that arise from bringing together a collective of creative women.
One of our incredible artisans, Josephine Ngirababyeyi, from the Kwizera Cooperative in Rwanda, Africa shared with us recently some of the ‘behind the scenes’ benefits she reaps at her co-op that brought a massive smile to our face:
(And if you’ve seen any of our Akaneri Bowls or Neri Trays, you have seen her work! She’s our go-to for these patterns, and incredibly talented in her craft!)
“When I am alone weaving, I just have my own ideas. But when we are together we exchange ideas; when I need an idea, they give it to me and it’s the same as when they need one.”
You see, each artisan has a story, a family, and a hope for a better life. And our objective is to make that hope a reality through strategic partnerships which support their dreams, families, and ultimately, communities.
But what we were not expecting to hear is how it provides an opportunity for connection with other creative women, a network to bounce ideas off to help with other areas of life and provide a way to contribute to each other.
“I am 42 years old. I live with my 4 children children at my Mum’s house because I’m no longer living together with my husband – we’ve divorced.
Before working with this cooperative, I was not able to get money. Now I am able to resolve things in my life. I use the money for paying rent and school fees, buying clothing and gardening supplies, caring for my children.”
When Josephine is not weaving, she farms and gardens and she is always on the lookout for better ways of doing things which is why these local collectives provide far more than just a place of work and income.
And so the offshoot value that being in a supportive community like this provides to our Rwandan artisans is, in our opinion, far greater and longer lasting than a simple paycheck.
Here in sunny California far away from these hard-working creatives, we always like to take a moment in between emails, events, and packing product to remember the impact that these collaborative efforts have with people far away.
The more we learn about the incredible talents and skills of our artisans, like Josephine, across the world, the more we are blown away by their growing expertise in their area of craft. And we are thrilled to know that the benefits of working in such a way extend far beyond their day-to-day working life.
“Working has changed my life to be better than before. I’d like to thank you for choosing me to be a part of the co-op.”