It’s been a fulfilling process for me personally to work as a facilitator for custom orders, connecting creatives abroad and local artisans this way. I asked Rita from Wild Shade Designs to write a little about the process of working with me to provide the client’s perspective. Read on below to see what she said.
These orders are helpful in collectively increasing work for our artisan partners. But more than that, they also get to try new design concepts, learning, growing, and creating new paths in a competitive artisanmade industry.
Right now with the COVID-19 situation, our artisan partners don’t have the normal access to sales – whether that be a small coop storefront, a stall at the artisan market, or orders for other local stores. These sales are all paused, until further notice. So custom orders are especially helpful at the moment, as we are also experiencing challenges as a small business, and worry about keeping steady production for our artisan partners.
If you feel inspired to create something in collaboration with us, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the conversation started.
Review of the custom design process by Rita:
Designing my own textile and having it produced into products was something I wanted to do for a long time, but it seemed like something that would be cost prohibitive for a small maker like myself. I sell naturally dyed scarves, and I wanted to try something new and more diverse to grow my shop, but I was concerned that the number of units required to produce a custom product would make it impossible for me. After a lot of back and forth in my mind, I sketched out a design and e-mailed it to Mari at Kakaw Designs. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was surprised to find the minimum order was very reasonable and not an issue. I am not a professional designer, so I was also a bit concerned that my sketches wouldn’t be adequate, but the sketches turned out to be just fine for the process.
I was also concerned that producing custom products in another country without being on the ground there would be almost impossible, but it is actually quite easy. I send the design to Mari, and she handles the rest. She communicates with the weavers and leatherworkers, gets the products packaged and shipped, and does all the legwork for you. The process is much easier than I had imagined in the beginning, and it is truly magical to carry something made by talented artisans using your design!
My first design was pretty simple, so I wanted to try something a bit more complex for the next order. I created a sketch and sent it to Mari, who then consulted the weaving cooperative to get feedback on the design. After consulting the weavers, we adjusted the design to better fit the limitations of the dying and weaving process. The process requires flexibility and exchange of ideas, and I really feel it is a collaborative process between designer and artisan. In my mind, that makes the textile even more special.
I am so glad I started this process with Kakaw Designs. The custom design process has allowed me to expand my micro-business and develop an outlet for creative expression I would not have had otherwise. In addition to the scarves and bags we have previously worked on, I am now working with Mari to expand into custom blouses as well. If you’ve been thinking about the custom order process, but haven’t quite made up your mind, I recommend you give it a try. It’s amazing fun to create your own custom designs, and once you get started, you realize just how infinite the possibilities are!
-Rita, Wild Shade Designs