Introducing Artisan Direct

November 12, 2019

One of our primary goals at CAUSEBOX is to create sustainable change, and one of the areas where that is especially challenging relates to the commitment we have to our artisan partners.

CAUSEBOX co-founder Matt Richardson says, “As we’ve grown and partnered with companies that work with artisans, we’ve seen how significantly our partnerships impact entire communities. In order for a cooperative to create products for our members, it often requires them to hire and train more artisans, and sometimes it even requires them to rent more space for the artisans to work in. During a production run, the impact of the opportunity can be felt community-wide — it is the most heartwarming and meaningful thing that we get to do.”

As a collective making large product orders, we feel a growing responsibility to create more opportunities for these women and men — and we are careful not to leave our partners overstaffed at the end of a partnership.

We tried to imagine what a long term solution would look like: How could we invest in the growth of these communities and people for the long haul? What would sustainability look like in terms of artisan impact, job creation, and skill training? The solution that excited us the most, and seemed most promising for the long-term, was to invest continuously in long term relationships with select artisan groups by working directly with them on an ongoing basis.

With the launch of the Add-On Market as part of the membership as well as increasing amounts of box customization, the timing was perfect. We could pair the best product developers and designers with our artisan partners to create products exclusively for the CAUSEBOX Community. Through seasonal collections of products in the Add-On Market and products in the seasonal box, we could keep returning to the same co-ops and form long-term relationships, enabling them to grow their teams and create ongoing impact within their communities. We launched the brand in the Fall and kept it straight to the point: we named it Artisan Direct, because that is what the CAUSEBOX Community is supporting — a direct investment in artisan communities.

Slowing Down

CAUSEBOX Head of Social Impact, Carly Burson, explains, “In many communities we work in, artisans pass down centuries-old craft skills to their children, and without access to a global market many of these age old skills will be lost. In turn, part of their cultural identity will be lost. Artisan Direct preserves cultural and historical significance for many communities.” In the fast-fashion economy, the labor-intensive, handmade techniques that artisan communities are revered for have difficulty competing with the demand for cheap, trendy, disposable products. Carly says, “We’re committed to Artisan Direct because we’re committed to creating a space for these makers, whose cultural preservation and livelihood deeply matter.”

The Impact of Spoons

The Gold Serving Spoons in the Winter Box are our first Artisan Direct product to be featured in a seasonal box. They are made in Moradabad, India, a city famous for quality handicrafts and large-scale brass works. The city is nicknamed Pital Nagri, or “Brass City,” for its world renowned metal industry. We partnered with a third-generation family workshop that is led by a husband and wife team who focus on workplace safety and an equal opportunity for male and female makers. The production of the spoons employed 100 artisans across a variety of skills: from metal sheet cutting and die cutting to polishing and plating. Once completed, the spoons traveled eight hours from Moradabad to our Jaipur-based team for quality control. They were then packaged in handmade paper boxes made from upcycled cotton that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. Every step of the process involves the human touch and thoughtful design choices, which make them the most meaningful set of spoons you will ever hold.

John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.