From San Francisco to Indonesia, Nest Professional Fellow Lanny James, took her skills across the world to act as a mentor, teacher, and professional guide to new hybrid batik-shibori business: Shibotik. Founded by Putri Komar, a bright young designer with a talent for introducing contemporary elements to her country’s most treasured techniques, Shibotik is a fledgling artisan enterprise that is redefining “artisan” today. During her time in Indonesia, Lanny and Putri spent days brainstorming and creating new strategies to inform a stronger business plan for Shibotik. Lanny challenged Putri to better understand her target customer and to identify opportunities for reaching this customer on the local and international scales, as well as through differing selling channels like brick and mortar as well as e-commerce. Putri is the first to sing Lanny’s praises: “She’s so kind and has the same spirit to bring up the Indonesian textiles into the higher level. We talked and shared a lot about how to get more foreign buyer for Batik Komar and more focus on Shibotik marketing planning. She’s been very helpful in giving me insights about the marketing strategies.” And as tends to be the case with Nest Professional Fellowships, the learning and works in both directions with Lanny finding fresh inspiration for her own work by spending her time with Putri. We look forward to sharing more Professional Fellowship stories throughout the year.
Nest’s Sara Otto recently returned from Mexico, where beautiful indigenous craft was a hallmark of the vibrant culture that welcomed her. Sara had the pleasure of meeting with both current and new Nest Artisan Guild businesses for Nest to support. Here are her notes from the field:
This design brand, who recently relocated its operations to Oaxaca, works with a network of artisans throughout the region and Mexico to make beautiful high quality garments, jewelry and home goods. The business is currently undergoing a re-branding and is focused on keeping its production intimate and truly artisanal, while also exploring ways to integrate innovative natural fibers into designs for more environmentally friendly and special products.
At Studio Xaquixe
Studio Xaquixe has a hand-made glass blowing production process that uses 100% recycled glass which is collected from the community and their kilns are partially powered by waste vegetable oil from local restaurants. I met with co-founder, Christian Thorton, who gave me a tour of the workshop and gave an in-depth history of the pioneering ways the business was able to reduce energy consumption and increase productivity.
Housed in beautiful, restored hacienda outside of the city, this is a design brand that was born out of a workshop between designers and local artisans where both sides were encouraged to experience and learn the design process through play. The prototypes developed through this program, as well as designs that were then taken to the next level, are sold through the Oax-i-fornia label and the sales go to benefit the artisans who produced them.
Ndavaa is a shoe company that has its roots in the Oax-i-fornia workshop collaboration. The founder, Sarahi, whose family has been producing leather products for many years, participated as an artisan in the workshop and since has taken off with her own extensive line of sandals and shoes, which supports a small workshop, as well as various artisan clusters in the region who supply her with fabric and raw materials for her shoes.
Chris, our COO, is home from the Philippines following a visit with 33.3, an artisan business engaged in the traditional art of Filipino basket-weaving. In partnership with the business’s leadership, Maribel Cruz, and her son, Kaloy, along with Nest Artisan Advancement Project Steering Committee brand, West Elm, Nest had the opportunity to pilot the Nest Standards for homework and small workshop production. We began the process with an initial assessment, followed by implementation of strategies to ensure transparency throughout the supply chain. Our shared goals included creating standardized systems for communicating workers’ rights all the way down to the individual artisan level – no simple task for a business employing 3,000 homeworkers. After conducting an initial assessment of 33.3’s current operations, we worked with the business to develop a worker manual and systems for information dissemination to artisans. On Chris’s latest trip, months of 33.3’s hard work was rolled out in the form of an impressive new worker’s manual and training program that we reviewed together. In addition to spending time with the 33.3 artisan leadership and weavers, Chris met with more than 20 subcontractors, known at 33.3 as team leaders: members of the supply chain who must be aligned on all Standards and policies. The group discussed strategies to ensure consistent record keeping as well those for inspiring the next generation of craftspeople. The need for cooperation in this field of work cannot be emphasized enough. Nest is thankful for our partnership with 33.3 and with West Elm. We look forward to sharing more.