Artisan & Fox: The marketplace for ethical artisan goods

August 13, 2020

What does Artisan & Fox sell?

Artisan & Fox is an ethical artisan marketplace that showcases extraordinary artisan craftsmanship from across the Majority World.

We collaborate with artisans across the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia to showcase handcrafted jewelry, homewares, and accessories to international markets.

What makes the brand unique?

Our business model re-defines the modern fashion supply chain, by giving the artisans the upper-hand in the entire product design process.

Each piece on our marketplace is inspired by the cultural landscapes of the regions in which we work in, the product of a curated approach or 1-to-1 design processes with the makers.

Our latest collection, Seasons of Afghanistan, was designed in collaboration with our partner artisan Saeeda Etebari, a former refugee-turned-artisan in the old city of Kabul. The collection is inspired by the tulip, which unbeknownst to many is actually the national flower of Afghanistan.

With a fusion of contemporary style and traditional techniques, we ensure that traditional craftsmanship is preserved, while also remaining relevant in today's world.

How did the company get started?

We first conceived of Artisan & Fox when our founder Jaron was working in Nepal in the summer of 2015 with a non-profit, assisting in earthquake relief. An earthquake has just struck the country, and many artisans were struggling to make ends meet. The artisans’ main source of income were tourists, and after the earthquake, there was none.

As a stop-gap solution, Jaron created a small online store to help some Nepali silversmiths sell their Himalyan crafts to an international market. The small store ended up being a small success, selling out many of the artisans’ products - which were great quality, and at very reasonable prices.

Realizing that the lack of market access is a common problem for artisans across the Majority World -- be it due to poor infrastructure, lack of know-how or due to political conflict, we grew Artisan & Fox across the Majority World to showcase the valuable culture embedded in their exemplary craftsmanship.

Since then, we’ve built Artisan & Fox on a human-centred approach with 200+ artisans across 9 countries, providing artisans access to international markets through our online marketplace. We also seek to preserve artisan heritage, by co-creating designs with our artisan partners, informed by the duality of contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship techniques.

What is Artisan & Fox’s social purpose?

As a social enterprise, we do things that don’t make sense to traditional retailers. Our artisan partners are guaranteed 50% of gross proceeds from each sale, and we reinvest the rest into discovering more artisans across the globe and for our social programs.

We’re creating long standing impact in artisans communities, by working towards sustainable incomes and inclusive growth for each artisan that we collaborate with.

What are the biggest problems artisan craftsmen face?

Artisan craftsmanship remains the second largest employer in developing countries. It is one of the main sources of income for both men and women craftspeople who seek a sustainable livelihood.

However, these artisans are also some of the most marginalized around the world, lacking independent access to the global market: socially immobile, and often exploited by unscrupulous middlemen.

That’s why we decided to create a business model, centered around independent artisans, small artisan groups, non-profits and local social enterprises.

What is your proudest 'doing good' moment to date?

We launched Thrive Transfers earlier in 2018, our zero-interest, pay-it-forward funding scheme for women artisans, launched in partnership with Thrive Transfers provide zero-interest credit for women artisans who require short-term financing, but lack access to affordable loans to grow their micro-enterprise. These transfers are funded by our profits from selected crafts.

Under the pay-it-forward model, instead of paying back the sum to Artisan & Fox, the artisan instead forward her credit to another woman in the same community. The aim is to build thriving artisans communities of women supporting women, which we believe can be exceptionally powerful, especially in patriarchal cultures where many of our partners live.

We also invest in working with artisans affected by war and conflict. Our Threads of Syria program is a not-for-profit initiative providing dignified economic opportunity to Syrian women refugees living in the Chatila refugee settlement in Lebanon.

A joint venture with the local non-profit Tight-Knit Syria and their Syrian women refugee partners, we’re providing sustainable livelihoods for the Syrian women refugees and their families through the design and development of artisan products. All proceeds from Threads Of Syria initiative goes to the Syrian women refugees and their wider camp community.

Are you planning any big initiatives in the upcoming months?

We have a few exciting projects in the pipeline.

We are planning a pop-up shop in West London in spring 2020 as part of our collaboration with UNHCR to feature homewares, jewellery and other crafts, made entirely by refugee artisans all over the world. It will be the world’s first pop-up store dedicated to refugee craftsmanship.

Stay tuned for more info on the store as we will be organising various events around the launch!

Anything else you would like to share?

Learn more about our recent collection in conjunction with the artisan Saeeda Etebari here.