Let’s get closer to and honor the people who labor honestly to make the products we love.
Our ability to buy anything and everything we need, at a moment’s notice, has somehow interfered with the kinship we once felt with the honored makers that labor to make the products we love. My grandfather was a custom shoe maker. He diligently built his business, raising 11 children on this trade, employing some of his children as well as his own siblings and other members of the community. A sustainable business to be proud of.
His Calzado Super store in Bucaramanga, Colombia served many men, as they sought him to make a great pair of shoes, year after year. His shoes were completely handmade, fine leather cut by hand, molds customized, hand-sewn soles, hand-stitched uppers. Tough, but amazing. My father’s hands show the strength and labor he exerted in making two pairs of shoes per day.
I always smile when I go shoe-shopping with my father (who’s the best shopping buddy a daughter can have). He helps me select the best pairs of shoes. He knows when they are made right. He gives me great advice and knows what looks and functions just right. And, of course, when it’s a pair of shoes from Bucaramanga, he smiles with great pride.
Bucaramanga, Colombia, today is still a shoe making town. Despite struggling with open trade that has allowed less expensive, mass-produced shoes to shake their market share, they have managed to carve their niches and arm themselves with exceptional quality to keep their businesses going.
They, like us at TheMakerWorld.com, seek clientele that value the hand that makes the goods they love. Products that last and can take some wear and tear. They “fit like a glove” with our styles, in our homes and in our lives. And though these treasures may be premium-priced (to make them sustainable), they are worth saving for.
Who are Makers?
The fact is that shoes and many products are still largely handmade worldwide. The question is by what techniques, how well are the makers honored, treated, or paid, how sturdy are the products, and are the goods fit for a fair life-expectancy? Sadly makers have been reduced to factory workers, specialized in a specific part of the process; a process that leaves much to be desired. Or makers of great goods have had to take significant cuts in income due to cheap product dumping and many other product alternatives (including free products introduced by misguided social entrepreneurs). It’s hard to compete with free.
Enclaves of makers, doing it right, exist in many remote parts of the world. Would you imagine that some of the best-made soccer balls are handmade in Sialkot, Pakistan or that some of the healthiest ceramic cookware is made in La Chamba, Colombia, or that exceptional fruit baskets are beautifully crafted in Rwanda and Ghana or that coveted fine-leather handbags are made in Bogota, Colombia.
In Colombia, the traditions and techniques are honored and much is invested in trying to conserve traditions. There is an amazing national, technical school (El SENA) and other foundations trying to formalize the passing of these handmade traditions. The issue lies in what the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, confirms: that the maker sector remains “fragmented and under-resourced,” and many artisans continue to work “in isolated environments, without business skills, market access, and the financial tools needed to boost production and sales.”
TheMakerWorld.com is grateful to be among the group of businesses trying to bridge this gap. We launched our business on October 23, 2016 and we’re excited to build a strong coalition of conscious makers, marketers and buyers that want to advance lasting sustainable impact and share prosperity more equitably.
Thank you for supporting conscious, paced e-commerce and honoring makers. Shop for the good of others and contribute to a growing access to exceptional quality, handmade products you can be proud to own.