Woodfolk

Woodfolk believes in honesty, compassion and being kind to our environment. They work in harmony with both natural materials and communities in need to create beautiful pieces for everyday wear, and that bring warmth and creativity into our homes.

Woodfolk’s purpose is to create a viable business that remains authentic to its ethos. Woodfolk is committed to working and collaborating with small family-run businesses as well as Women focused organisations, creating opportunity, self-determination, support and hope in these communities through social entrepreneurship.

Relationships are built on trust, equality, fair trade and their long term goal is to bring meaningful change to lives, as well as demonstrating a fairer alternative to businesses seeking trade with third world communities.

Woodfolk is a proud member of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand.

STATS

When it comes to income, the rates they pay the artisans properly compensate them for time spent, materials, and skill, and provide an income that enables them to make changes for themselves, family and community

The Woodfolk artisans are payed 4-5 times more than the median-average wage in Nepal. This is also based on an Australian standard 40-hour work week in comparison to a possible 50-60-hour work week in Nepal.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

“Social entrepreneurship is the attempt to draw upon business techniques and private sector approaches to find solutions to social, cultural or environmental problems” – Wikipedia

The income the artisans generate working with Woodfolk, is enabling them to slowly change their socio-economic position. We grow together, and as we do, a greater volume of work is generated for them. This has already extended employment opportunities for other family members and their communities.

By supporting with trade, not aid, the positive impact is sustainable. The partnerships greatly affect their sense of self-worth. A sense of self-worth has the capacity to change mindset for future generations.

The work they do also provides a sense of security and protection in the event of a natural disaster like the Earthquake in April 2015. All of the artisans were very keen to keep the work coming, even immediately following the earthquake which killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed around half a million homes. Not only did Woodfolk provide ample work, they also provided financial assistance in order for them to repair their homes.

Woodfolk have strong and loyal relationships with the artisans in Nepal. They work very closely with a Newar family in Nepal to hand make Wood pieces. According to UNESCO, the craftsmanship of the Newars is one of the most highly-developed in the world. The Father is a Master wood carver who was previously not employed to work using his skill. Unlike earlier times when artisans were essential, respected and well payed, many Nepalese artisans have had to abandon their craft for better paying jobs. Nowadays, much decorative woodwork in Nepal comes from neighbouring countries China and India where the labour costs and materials are more competitive and the purchase price is cheaper.

Our master wood carver’s son works as our project manager. As with many of the younger generation of Nepalese, he is very entrepreneurial and sees the value and opportunity in the collaboration. He also has an eye for detail making sure the quality consistently meets the high standards. His English skills enable communication with his dad and other family members who don’t speak English.

As Woodfolk grows, the orders are getting larger and larger which is enabling the company to employ the skills of the mother of the family, daughter, uncles, cousins and extended family.

FOCUS ON WOMEN

As is common in third world countries, opportunity for women in Nepal is limited. There is discrimination from birth where it comes to education, healthcare, ownership of assets, economic and social mobility. This can be exacerbated in the event of a disability or divorce. Woodfolk's natural scarves, bags and cotton pouches are handmade by a women’s co-op just outside of Kathmandu. The plan is that with time, they will be able to employ more and more women to make these pieces. Not only does this enable the women to develop skills and a sense of entrepreneurship, it also creates independence, a primary or secondary income to support families, as well as a strong sense of self-worth. When opportunities are presented, this generation of Nepali women are eager to take on any challenge. If more businesses offered opportunity and responsibility to women in Nepal, the impact on the gender equality gap would be immense and a new generation for women would be born.

SUSTAINABILITY

Core to Woodfolk’s ethos is its commitment to the environment. Their items are created exclusively from Wood, Ceramic, Cotton, Linen, and Wool, all sustainable materials that nature has provided.

These materials go through the cycle and when no longer needed, can be recycled. The Wood is a Nepalese hardwood that has been grown sustainably and more commonly used for decorative objects like for furniture, stair railings and carved symbols; natural or non-toxic dyes are used; and product packaging is always carefully considered. All pieces are packaged in 100% cotton pouches that have been handmade by a wonderful women’s organisation in Nepal.

BUILDING AWARENESS

By merely existing and holding true to their values Woodfolk are doing their part by asking people to question theirs, and pay attention to the products they are buying and where they are coming from. They hope to be an example of what a fair trade business looks like, working directly and personally with artisans and using natural materials that nature has provided.

 

Emma Goodwin
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