Behind the Craft: Fair Trade Artisans' Stories from Around Indonesia

Behind the Craft: Fair Trade Artisans' Stories from Around Indonesia

You always hear about the benefits of Fair Trade in the third person, hardly ever you see or hear from a fair trade craver and what he feels about the difference of Fair Trade makes to him/her and their family. 

So below is 10 small biographies' of people who I have bought from, who work with a fair trade organisation and they state how beneficially fair trade affect their lives. Along side their name are examples of what amazing items they were and are able to make!

1. Agung: Wooden Hands

Agung - Carver of wooden hand bottle holders

"My name is Agung and I’m 37 years old.

I along with another wood carver craft wooden hand statues and things like bowls shaped like hands. The hand is such an interesting part of the body with so much character that it’s always fascinated me. 

Initially we started as a small business with very little revenue. This was because of the fact that there was no market for our products apart from passing tourists who would haggle us down to a loss most days.

After we started working for our Fair trade organisation quite a number of years ago now, our business expanded nicely. We were exposed to a whole new market and work according to its requirements, which means designing new ideas to keep our work fresh and exciting. Designing something new that’s an instant hit makes me feel so elated and happy inside."

2. Bangkim: Buddha Ornaments

"My name is Bangkim and I am 32 years old, I'm from Bangli, Indonesia. I have been associated with my Fairtrade organisation for the past seven years carving and crafting happy Buddha statues in all various shapes and sizes.

I feel immense pleasure in crafting happy Buddhas with my hands. I believe that I am spreading the joy, happiness and blessings of Buddha’s teachings around the world with my craft. These statues are hand crafted by our own hands and there’s no machinery involved at all.

Buddha has a lot of spiritual influence on our region and this is depicted in our work as well. My work depicts Buddha’s message and preaching."

3. Boby: Wooden Cats

Fair Trade Artisan Boby

"My name is Boby. I belong to the Kintamani region of Bali. I am 34 years old. I have been working with my Fair trade organisation for the past 5 years.

Previously I was a small scale artist and I used to make handicrafts for local tourists, selling them for whatever I could get. My life changed dramatically after I started working with Fair trade. Over time I have hired a team of five more people to work for me producing goods as the demand for my work was too much for me alone.  We are all lucky to work for my Fair trade organisation, as it recognises our true worth and has opened new avenues of progress for us.  Fair trade has a huge economic impact on our lives and on the lives of people associated with us.

I plan to employ more people in future and design more innovative pieces in what is an exciting future for me."

4. Dekca: Wooden Owl Ornaments

 "My name is Dekca and I belong to the Batukaru region of Bali, Indonesia.

Dakca - Fair Trade Artisan

I make bird crafts and carvings from a diverse range of woods such as Bamboo root, Suar wood or Parasite wood. I have worked for my Fair trade organisation for the past six years.  I lead a team of 12 workers making these beautiful pieces.

Working with my fair trade organisation has been a great experience as it’s a genuine fair trade company. This has been a life changing opportunity for my team and me as we are paid our dues and our rights as workers are fully respected.  Financial security that comes with working for Fairtrade has attracted a large number of independent workers to join my team. Together we are doing our level best to create unique and wonderful pieces that touch lives wherever they go.

Previously I used to work alone and was not very aware of market trends but Fairtrade has exposed me to bigger markets.  Now I am at a position to understand what the latest market trends, I can guide my workers to create quality products that customers will love. All the products that I create are handcrafted to perfection. I look forward to continue my work with Fairtrade and expand my team to decorate the world with the pieces of art that we make."

5. Dewa Gede: Mosaic Coasters, Bowls & Vases

"My name is Dewa Gede and I am from Southern Indonesia.

Fair Trade Female Artisan holding mosaic bowl

I am a 25 year old working mother of 2 children and I have been working for the past four years making presentable items from stained glass for our family business. The works involves a lot of delicacy and hard work. An error at any stage could prove to be drastic for the whole piece. Precision and accuracy are the keys to make quality products. Our family has been involved in making mosaic coasters, bowls, vases and photo frames for the past 15 years when we used to own a shop selling these pieces of arts to the tourists. Our association with Fairtrade has revolutionized our lives, now we don't even have to run a shop to make a living!

Now we have had to hire a lot of new workers to keep up with the level of work. As we continued to receive more and more orders my family business has expanded to an enormous scale and I feel highly elated to have worked for my organisation where fair trade policies are being adopted. I hope to continue my business as it is a great source of inspiration to all the young entrepreneurs in my Village."

6. Gading: Driftwood Mirrors

"My name is Gading and I am 31 years old and I’m from Bali, Indonesia. I, along with other members of my family, am in the business of making items from

Gading Fair Trade Artisan making mirrors

real driftwood, like mirrors and pieces for the home.

When I was growing up my father owned a small business in Bali that sold Driftwood handicrafts. His work was to craft decorative items from driftwood (which is collected from the beaches). His customers mostly comprised of local traders in Bali. After joining my father’s business I found great pleasure in this craft and tried to help support the family creating and selling it.

We were fortunate to be spotted by our Fairtrade organisation, and after we started working for it, our lives changed for the better. Previously we had to work day and night to accommodate our basic needs, as local traders used to pay us quite less for our work. Now I along with my wife, brother and sister we work together for Fairtrade and make enough money to live quite a comfortable life. I aim to work for Fairtrade in the future and produce artifacts with superior quality for people around the world and maybe become a household name as the great artist of driftwood."

7. Kaka: Metal Ornaments

Fair Trade Artisan Kaka

"My name is Kaka. I am 29 years old and I live in Indonesia.  I craft objects from metal – often funny ones!  I used to work alone, but now I employ my brother and I have taught him the art of metalwork as my business is expanding due to trading with the western world.

Working fairly with other countries has given our work due acknowledgement, as previously my hard work did not pay well at all. When I started being involved with Fair Trade I started to get a good amount for my work which not only pays me income, but allows me to save for the future.

I feel fortunate to be working with international companies and I hope to expand my business further by employing more craftsmen to improve their lives just as mine has been."

8. Kumpal: Animal Models

"My name is Kumpal and I am from Bali, Indonesia, I am 39 years old and father of four children. I hold specialisation in crafting many different animal statues.

Fair Trade artisan: Kumpal

I draw a great deal of inspiration from wild life and the horse has always been my favourite animal because of its speed and grace. We don't have a lot of horses in the wild here in Bali, so most of my creation comes from my head and pictures I have seen.

I have been associated with Fair trade for almost seven years and my life changed dramatically after I started working for my Fair trade organisation. The concept of Fair trade is very much encouraging for me and my fellow craft workers. There is a huge responsibility on my shoulders to support my family and previously our work was hardly appreciated and we had to wait to get our payments from local businessmen.  Fair trade has given my work its due acknowledgement and recognition and I now am able to make a living and plan for my family’s future.

I love to make new animals as I find this challenging and a real fun way to fill my days".

9. Md Suarsa: Wooden Dolphins and Sealife Statues

"My name is Md Suarsa, Im 29 years old and from Ubud in Bali.

Fair Trade Artisan

I have been crafting these wooden dolphins and sealife statues for the past 11 years. This is basically a family run business that has been handed down from one generation to the next. I got my basic training from my parents and now, I have transferred this craft to my sons. The wooden Dolphin is made from the strong Saur wood with the help of basic hand tools, and no conventional machinery is used in the process. I don’t think people believe that this is all done by my hands but it really is !  

I regard it my duty to the generations before me to craft items with full passion and spirit in order to keep alive their tradition of crafting quality objects.  My Fairtrade organisation has been brilliant in changing our lives by paying us fairly and somewhat more then artisans usually get in our trade. In addition to this, the fact that our work is recognized at an international level further adds to the appeal of working with Fairtrade. It inspires me to work better and produce quality products. 

I aim to extend my business and hire more people for making these intricate pieces of art. This will benefit me as well as the local craftsmen, our work will get its due recognition and our economic conditions will also improve to the larger extent."

10. Wahyudi: Elephants

"My name is Wahyudi and I belong to the Nusa Panida area of Bali, Indonesia.

Fair Trade Artisan

I have been associated with Fairtrade for the past seven years. I hold specialisation in crafting the wooden elephant statues that you see.

My work is a little difficult as it involves handling of large blocks of wood and molding them into presentable objects. This work involves high level of delicacy at each and every step with help of hand tools. Elephants hold an important spiritual place in many religions of Indonesia, the spiritual inclination of people towards elephants inspired me to craft the elephants.

Working with my Fairtrade organisation has changed my life a lot and has brought a great deal of prosperity to my family, the fact that my organisation deals with the fair trade issues is a great source of inspiration to me. Previously, my clients mostly comprised of local tourists, and I used to get quite a low amount after much bargaining. Local traders also used to exploit the artisans work by paying quite a bit less than I needed to make ends meet. Fairtrade has changed mine and my fellow artisans’ lives in terms of financial wellbeing to a greater extent.  In future I hope to continue my work for Fairtrade and I am also hopeful that more artisans will join me too as my team needs to expand further."


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