Every year, the artisan sector generates a staggering $32 billion, playing a pivotal role in global economies. Yet, at the heart of this thriving industry, many of the female artisans, particularly indigenous women, remain largely overlooked and marginalized. These unsung heroes who painstakingly uphold this sector often find themselves obscured in the shadows. This post is about one such story of resilience and transformation, where a vision to empower indigenous women artisans is reshaping lives and communities.
Meet Chisama Ku Penn, the founder of Custom Tradition.
This unique online marketplace brings forth the beautiful handicrafts of women indigenous artisans. From intricately woven storage baskets and bowls to handwoven pillows, Custom Tradition showcases these artists' diverse skills and untapped potential.
The genesis of Custom Tradition lies in Chisama's poignant encounter with the hardships faced by artisans in Mexico, where the platform's current partners hail from. The indigenous communities there, much like their counterparts worldwide, grapple with a host of challenges, ranging from the erasure of their languages and cultures to extreme poverty and limited access to information and telecommunication networks.
Since September 2019, Chisama has collaborated with a women-led collective of palm basket weavers from the Mishtek region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Through small batch orders for their exquisite palm leaf baskets, Custom Tradition fosters a more sustainable, fair economic opportunity for these indigenous artisans.
At Giverb, we applaud the ethos of Custom Tradition, which echoes our own mission. Like us, they believe in empowering individuals to work within their traditional means, respecting their processes, and ensuring they receive fair compensation. They are committed to using their privileges to showcase these artisans' work to a global audience, thus bridging the gap between their craft and the world.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when local markets where these artisans typically sold their products were shuttered, Custom Tradition became a beacon of hope, a guaranteed option for these women to continue generating income for themselves and their families.
Yet, the journey is still in its early stages. To grow and expand their impact, Custom Tradition seeks external funding. They aspire not just to ensure that these women artisans feel secure but also to help them realize that their craft, their tradition, and their stories matter.
We invite you to join this transformative journey and support Custom Tradition. Let's together ignite a wave of change that transcends boundaries, uplifts communities, and redefines the future of artisanal craft. Together, let's empower the change-makers of tomorrow, one artisan at a time.