Custom Tradition is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization
(TAX ID #: 87-1393893)
WHAT IS CUSTOM TRADITION?
Custom Tradition is a fair trade non-profit organization that supports indigenous women artisans by promoting their handicrafts to a global market.
We currently work with a women-led collective of palm basket weavers from the indigenous Mixtec community of Oaxaca, Mexico.
The artisan sector is the second largest employer of the developing world, bringing in $32 billion/year, yet the indigenous artisans who make up this sector struggle to be recognized for their work due to ongoing cultural erasure, poverty, and lack of access to information. Custom Tradition's mission is to support our artisans in ways that their local governments have not, by creating economic opportunities, promoting their work, and giving them a voice.
WHY WE ARE RAISING MONEY
The demand for our artisan’s handicrafts has been proven both online and via in-person sales, however we lack the external funding needed to successfully run Custom Tradition so that we can sustainably support our artisans.
$10,000 WOULD ALLOW US TO:
- LAUNCH our grant program where we provide our artisans with tools and resources needed to grown their artisan businesses.
- EDUCATE our artisans through a series of skill-based workshops in order to enable them to attain social and economic empowerment.
- EXPAND our impact on the global artisan community by developing partnerships with more artisan collectives.
- HIRE much needed support in marketing, finance, and networking.
- Indigenous communities are in danger of losing their language and thus their culture. According to the UNESCO Atlas of Languages in Danger, of the 6,700 spoken languages in the world, 40% are in danger of disappearing. In Mexico, 20% of the population identifies as indigenous, but only 6% speak an indigenous language. Language plays a crucial role in each person's unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory.
- Indigenous communities live in extreme poverty. Indigenous communities represent about 5% of the world’s population but make up 15% of the world’s extreme poor, and 1/3 of the rural poor. In Mexico, the percentage of indigenous people who live in poverty is nearly double that of the general population.
- Indigenous communities do not have access to information. Extreme poverty means little to no access to information via fixed and mobile broadband telecommunication networks. For Mexico, approximately 44% of people in rural locations (many of indigenous women) do not have mobile data coverage (11.38 million people). Not only does this create a lack of new and important information, but also makes it difficult for indigenous artisans to seek opportunities to promote their work.
- We give our artisans room to make their work within their own means. By ordering in small batches, allowing room for product variation, and supporting our artisans in their own unique process, we celebrate and respect their cultural identity and diversity. We recognize the importance that indigenous traditions and techniques have on the development of products and practices, and we encourage it.
- We pay promptly and fairly to all of our artisans and never negotiate the price they set. We allow them to give full insight into the value of their products and the time that goes into making them. This empowers our artisans to have control over their work so that they are not taken advantage of.
- We use our privilege to promote our artisan's work to a global market. Understanding the lack of access to internet that indigenous communities all over the world face, our platform handles all promotion of our artisan's work by sharing it with a global market. We recognize our privilege as English-speakers with free access to the internet, and use it to give our artisans a voice.
ABOUT THE FOUNDER:
Chisama Ku Penn is from Atlanta, GA and graduated from Earlham College with a B.A. in Spanish & Hispanic Studies. During college she spent most of her time volunteering as a language teacher for local Spanish-speaking immigrant communities. Upon graduating, Chisama Ku received the 2016 U.S. Fulbright Award to Argentina as an ETA (English Teaching Assistant). During her time there, she gained insight into Argentina's long-running history of erasing its indigenous presence. She began to question the various ways in which indigenous people all over the world face cultural erasure and what steps could be taken to prevent this.
During a solo trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2019, Chisama Ku encountered many indigenous artisans and began to listen to their stories of struggling to thrive within their different communities and nation at large. It was after spending three weeks with an indigenous women-led collective of palm basket weavers that she decided to start Custom Tradition to support them and the work they do.
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT
FOR HELPING US CREATE A BETTER WORLD WHERE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES CAN THRIVE.