“Make an impact” is likely at the top of a lot of people’s lists when it comes to things they want to achieve through their jobs. As a culture, we are so much more aware of the consequences of our actions than we used to be. The results are simply more visible to us thanks to social media. And while we can’t assume responsibility for solving all the world’s problems, many of us try to dig into the ways that we can.
So, can investing in crafts make an impact?
When you think of impact, you might think of NGOs, non-profits, volunteering and charity. You might not think about craft. The word itself feels unserious. Isn't it gluing and sticking with loo rolls and lolly pop sticks? Crotchet? Well yes, but it's also a huge and vital pillar of employment across the globe which has been sustaining economies for centuries. In Burma alone, 12% of the working population earning their livelihoods through craft. That’s 2.5 million people.
Since Covid and the military coup, these numbers are increasing. More young people are entering the craft trade as they have fewer opportunities elsewhere. So for Kalinko, and for the Burmese makers we want to support, craft is a literal lifeline.
The ‘slow design’ and ‘handmade’ worlds can be a bit of an echo chamber – if you’re someone who values craft, you'll seek it out and be more aware of what is available. But we can't always find what we want, or choose to prioritise that cost. We all still necessarily have a big attachment to convenience, fast-design and disposable, fast-paced trends, which takes business away from makers like ours. As a result, some of these traditional crafts and skills are dying out, in favour of machines that can do things quicker. Crafts that tell the history of certain communities and cultures are being eroded, and the livelihoods of those who survive within them are at stake.
At Kalinko, preserving and supporting these crafts that are under threat is our entire mission. The measure of our impact underlies everything we do. Investing in craft is why we exist.
Buying a handcrafted object affects the full supply chain – from the makers who craft your objects through to the people transporting it from place to place, down to those who package everything up for shipping.
Together with our customers, we have the potential to lift entire communities, to choose to spend with them rather than with a well-oiled machine. So yes, crafts can and do make an impact. A huge, important one. We just need to remember to choose them when we can.