Meet the Artisans

Silk Road Bazaar & Kork

Silk Road Bazaar is a wholesale representative of marginalized artist groups located in Central Asia. We connect with artists who are far from the capitals, who have limited market access, who do not possess modern marketable skills but have carried on traditional craft culture.

Following the proverb, ‘the best way to know a man is to walk a thousand miles in his shoes,’ we believe that to know who we are working with and to understand their lives, we ourselves need to live like and with them. We live amongst our artist groups for an extended period of time. During that time we help them become self-sustainable by developing their designs, management techniques, quality control and computer skills.

All designs and collaborations are original works of Central Asian artists and Silk Road Bazaar.

Artisans - Kork - Kyrgyzstan

Our products are available for wholesale purchase by retailers only. Our collections may be viewed and purchased at our wholesale e-commerce website

In 1996 Gulnara Kyrdyrmyshova incorporated “Kork, Fiber Art Group.” At that time many artists faced unemployment and required a place to express their talents. Kydyrmyshova recognized this and quickly organized “Kork, Fiber Art Group” to provide local artists with an outlet to sell their works.

Kyrdyrmyshova’s focus has always been on the promotion of felt products; however she works with artists who are engaged in various mediums. “Kork, Fiber Art Group” has been providing artists in Kyrgyzstan for over 15 years with a place to promote their felt works, other textiles, and ceramics.

“Kork, Fiber Art Group” has helped to sustain interest in the arts, provide artists with employment, and kept the tradition of felting alive during times of severe poverty and economic depression. Kyrdyrmyshova and her associated artists have a deep interest in the encouragement and integration of traditional Kyrgyz design and patterns in their artwork as well as educating people about their history of felt.

In 2012 Silk Road Bazaar and Kork have partnered to bring Kyrgyz crafts and design to a global audience.

Images & Story shared by Silk Road Bazaar

Matr Boomie

Purchases of Matr Boomie’s exclusive products sustain jobs for people throughout India who have been handcrafting artisanal goods for generations. We partner with women’s groups, minorities, people with special needs, urban slums and isolated rural communities to empower artisans through dignified, sustainable employment. Above all, we value:

  • Safe work conditions

  • Education

  • The confidence and well-being of our artisan partners

  • No child labor

Empowering Women

The current sex ratio in India is 940 females to 1000 males, which reflects in extreme gender inequality. Economic empowerment through fair trade and education provides independence, confidence and respect for women, who are the majority (75%) in our artisan network.

People with Special Needs

It is estimated that 80% of the world’s disabled live in developing countries, where it is difficult to receive proper care and attention. Matr Boomie empowers artisans with special needs with life skills and training that foster confidence, independence and dignity. 

Rural Development

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “The true India is not to be found in its few cities, but in its 700,000 villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too.” Matr Boomie’s partnerships with thousands of tribal artisans in villages throughout India has quadrupled their monthly incomes.

Small Producers

We partner with communities who need it most and are happy to work with groups that show potential. When small producer groups grow, more artisans become self-sufficient, education levels increase, and families and communities prosper.

Urban Enterprise

Like the remote rural villages of India, the sprawling urban centers present economic and social struggle for minorities, lower castes, women and the poor. See how we’re breaking cycles of poverty with economic empowerment and education.

Images & Story shared by Matr Boomie

The global fair trade movement began with the founding of Ten Thousand Villages more than 60 years ago through the visionary work of Edna Ruth Byler, a pioneering businesswoman. Byler was struck by the overwhelming poverty she witnessed during a trip to Puerto Rico in 1946, where she was moved to take action. The seminal contribution of Byler ignited a global movement to eradicate poverty through market-based solutions.

Byler believed that she could provide sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a viable marketplace for their products in North America. She began a grassroots campaign among her family and friends in the United States by selling handcrafted products out of the trunk of her car. Byler made a concerted effort to educate her community about the lives of artisans around the world.

For the next 30 years, Byler worked tirelessly to connect individual entrepreneurs in developing countries with market opportunities in North America. From humble beginnings, Ten Thousand Villages has grown to a global network of social entrepreneurs working to empower and provide economic opportunities to artisans.

$140 million in sustainable income has been earned by makers who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed since our founding in 1946.

Our Vision: One day all artisans in developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect, and be able to live a life of quality.

Images & Story shared by Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages

Bombolulu Workshops

Located near Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, Bombolulu provides employment and numerous other benefits, including housing, medical aid and adult education, for adults who are blind or physically disabled and who would otherwise have virtually no chance of employment in the mainstream labor market. Artisans create jewelry and other products for both local and export markets. An on-staff designer creates new jewelry lines, including both the trademark whimsical Bombolulu recycled materials jewelry and other design pieces.

 

Bombolulu was established in 1969. It is one of a number of branches of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya Coast Branch, a Kenyan charitable organization. Bombolulu’s campus includes housing units for artisans, artisan workshops, and a guesthouse to help generate income. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from Bombolulu Workshop since 1986.

Image & Story shared by Ten Thousand Villages

Jedando African Handicrafts

Working with more than 100 individual carvers in Machakos, Kenya,Jedando Modern Handicrafts markets African handicrafts primarily made of wood and bone worldwide. Carving is a tradition in Kenya with the children learning the craft from their parents. Carved by hand using only rudimentary hand tools, olive wood bowls, salad serving sets, and animal-shaped napkin rings take shape from pieces of olive wood, mahogany, and mpingo, or "African Ebony". 
An integral part of the organization's function is to educate the craftspeople on the need for reforestation to enable the products to be available for years to come and offer a sustainable income for generations. While wood carving provides the major income for many in the Machakos area, other craftspeople earn a living by further enhancing the products including painting the napkin rings and carving discarded animal bone for the handles of salad serving sets. Often the bone is "batiked" by placing wax on the white bone and dipping the bone a dark brown/black dye, resulting in patterns African mud cloth designs. 

Image & Story shared by Global Crafts

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ethical hope...

- Ethical Hope is about family - the global community that is our family, whether we know them all or not, and caring for them exactly as they are, wherever they are.  

- Ethical Hope is about value - valuing those who have been deemed worthless and showing them that their contributions to the world are indeed valuable and vitally important.

- Ethical Hope is about justice - the need for offering fair treatment and sustainable wages in cultures and societies where the outcasts are forgotten or neglected.

- Ethical Hope is about hope - offering it to anyone who needs hope in their struggles, light in their darkness, acceptance in their brokenness.

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