Unique Batik Blog

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Artisan Profile: Kamibashi

sdmake_pplUnraveling the story of Kamibashi is as much fun as learning about their collection of whimsical String Dolls.  The journey began when founders, Kristen Doherty Daniels and Chris Daniels, went abroad to teach English in Japan. When they left their hometown of Chicago to work in the city of Kyoto, they never imagined that their encounters with talented young Asian artisans would ultimately lead them to a new career, a new company, and life in the scenic mountains of North Carolina, but life is full of surprises!  Unique Batik teamed up with Kamibashi at a 2011 trade show, and we’ve been carrying by the String Dolls ever since.

Kamibashi’s products range from cute to quirky, and all are packed with personality.  Made by artisans living in the hill country outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand, the String Doll Gang is a lively collection of characters that also function as keychains.  Each has an embroidered tag with its name and lucky “power.”  Kristen and Chris discovered String Dolls when they first appeared in the markets of Thailand in 2004, and they have worked diligently with the Kamibashi artisans to create characters that appeal to customers all over the world. Each string doll is handmade using one continuous piece of string then embellished with a face and various accessories to give it its own unique personality.  Whether you need Some French Guy to remind you that good food and wine feed the body and the soul or Astroneil to encourage you to take the first step, there’s a String Doll for everyone.

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Artisan Profile: Francisco Jimon

deerThe mountainous village of Sacualpa in the Quiche region of Guatemala is off the beaten tourist path, and artisans there have fewer opportunities to sell their goods. Francisco Jimon leads a group of five people who make machine embroidered textiles using locally made backstrap loomed fabric. The group is made up of Francisco, his brother, Tomas, and other family members. They have been working together for twelve years and use the income from their crafts to supplement what they make working on other people’s farms as day laborers. They earn decent wages planting, tending, and harvesting crops of corn, beans, and tomatoes, but the work is seasonal, and their craft sales provide income they can count on when there is no work in the fields. Continue reading


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Guest Blogger Amy Kay’s Trip to Guatemala

I’m something of an impostor… a fraud, in fact.  Although I’m posing as a business person and own a Fair Trade store, I’m really just a minister.

Amy Kay's Family

Amy Kay’s Family

After serving the church for 11 years, I began following my husband’s career four years ago and the result has been a lot of substitute preaching, serving part-time as a college’s Chaplain, and starting a Fair Trade store in both of the towns we’ve lived.  I haven’t always made great business decisions, harking back to the ‘poser’ admission, but the decision to spend my time with Fair Trade has never been in question.  It is good.  Very good.  For everyone.

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Introduction to The Modern Maya

maya5Once one of the most powerful civilizations in Central America, the Maya people remain an integral part of Guatemala. The rise of the Maya civilization began thousands of years ago and spread across what it now southern Mexico all the way to modern-day Honduras. The Maya civilization lasted longer than any other Mesoamerican culture that came to power in the area, and as a result, traces of the culture remain very much alive even today. Continue reading


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Reducing Impact, Recycling Inspiration

Xoila

Xoila

In today’s struggle to preserve the earth for future generations, the inclusion of people in developing countries is more important than ever. Not only are those in developing countries more at risk for health problems caused by environmental factors, without their participation in taking measures to combat environmental problems, there is little chance of seeing real change. As fair trade producers operating within the principles of fair trade as defined by the World Fair Trade Organization, Unique Batik is committed to using materials sourced sustainably, minimizing waste, and using production techniques that reduce environmental impact. Continue reading


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Tres Estrellas: A Story of Transformation

Guitar String1One of the most beautiful things about fair trade is the way it transforms things. It transforms people who are oppressed into people who have opportunities. It transforms beggars into businessmen. It transforms kids on the street into kids in the classroom. And sometimes, with a little creativity, it turns trash into treasure.

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Las Mujeres De Panabaj: Working Together to Rebuild

Panabaj1For indigenous women in the villages on the banks of beautiful Lake Atitlan, life is not always as picturesque as their placid surroundings. Although many of the villages in the Lake Atitlan region are renowned for their form of handicrafts, or artesania, earning a sustainable, living wage through sales of these handicrafts — no matter how unique or well-made — presents many challenges. The thousands of tourists who visit the region each year don’t make it to every small village, and even if they did, competition for craft sales is fierce. It takes more than crafting skills to be a successful artisan. For the artisan group Mujeres Panabaj, working together as a cooperative instead of trying to make it as individual artisans has been the key to success. Continue reading