Artisan and Fox is a business that focuses on connecting artisans in rural villages across the world with the online marketplace. They are able to share their stories in a way that allows you to actually #knowyourartisan and it’s with this in a world full of the latest Pandora, Karen Walker, Stolen Girlfriends Club that being able to tell the story behind the person who made your clothing and jewellery that I personally find to be incredibly empowering.
I was lucky enough to have both Jaron and Laura sit down and answer the questions I ponder when I want to know more about a brand then meets the eye. Learn more about why Artisan and Fox was started, alongside some of the hardest things they’ve had to overcome and the number one book they recommend you should read below.
This one’s an eye opener. I hope you love it as much as I do.
WHAT MADE YOU START ARTISAN & FOX?
Artisan & Fox was started after a chance meeting that we had with artisans in the
Himalayas. We realised that many Nepali artisans were struggling to get fair
prices for their beautiful craftsmanship – they either had to work through
extortionate middlemen to sell online, or be pressured into peddling low-quality
tourist trinkets on the roadside as tourists tend to haggle.
We saw an opportunity to help artisans move up the value chain – focusing on producing quality craftsmanship at fair prices by selling to international audiences.
WHAT IS SOMETHING OTHERS WOULD’T KNOW ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS THAT YOU THINK THEY SHOULD?
If you wish to start a social business, be sure to truly understand the issue before starting
Often people start a business for a problem they don’t understand. So
apprentice with your problem first
to build up your understanding of the problem you are trying
to solve. For example, if you wish to ‘build an app for farmers in Southeast
Asia.’, first you take a step back. It would be silly if you have neither farmed, nor if you have never been to Asia (which part of Asia?). We can’t build an impactful organisation if we do not know the people we want to help and the problem we want
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING THING YOU HAVE UNCOVERED SINCE BEGINNING?
Scaling at large. Because we try to adapt to each artisan community we work with, there are specific needs within each community that we have to adapt to on a needs-based basis. We are unable to simply ‘plug’ each artisan into the global market, because each micro-business faces different obstacles. Some obstacles
are cultural (women not being able to work freely or some communities are
discriminated against), while some obstacles are financial (some do not have
bank accounts so we have to assist with that) or legal (the Syrian women
refugees we work with do not have the legal right to incorporate a co-operative).
WITHIN THE ETHICAL FASHION COMMUNITY, THERE’S A BIG QUESTION THAT WE ASK WHICH IS ‘WHO MADE MY CLOTHES?’. IN THE SCOPE OF ARTISAN & FOX, WHAT IS THE CRITERIA YOU REQUIRE TO DECIDE WHAT ARTISANS TO STOCK?
Our founding member Laura has been working with Fashion Revolution’s
#whomademyclothes campaign for the past years. We adopt the hashtag
“#KnowYourArtisan” in a similar vein to inspire mindfulness in consumers behind
For Artisan & Fox, we have specific artisan partnership guidelines that we share with
potential partners. Only if artisans agree to our guidelines on ethics,
transparency and commitment to sustainability, would they be onboarded onto our