iris Talks #SOCIALGOODBIZ at SXSW 2016

On March 15, 2016, Alliance for Artisan Enterprise Director Peggy Clark joined Dani Lachowicz of Bloom + Grace, Devi Thomas of UN Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign, and Sarah Aitken of iris at SXSW's SXGood Hub to discuss #socialgoodbiz.

Conversation focused on "Social Good Business: Benefits, Barriers, Branding." The four women discussed challenges of working in the artisan sector, the increased consumer demand for sustainable goods, and the value of the global handmade marketplace.

"Doing good is good business. It just makes sense!" emphasized Dani. Founded in 2013, her organization Bloom + Grace now works with artisans in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Kenya to craft jewelry that impacts lives around the world. To increase the power of each piece, the organization has partnered with the UN Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign; each piece provides lifesaving vaccinations to children in developing countries.

Still, working with artisans comes with a wide range of challenges; Dani faces communication gaps, quality control issues, and timeline barriers. These issues are not isolated to Bloom + Grace. The artisan sector is a $32B industry around the world, with approximately two-thirds of artisan activity taking place in developing countries. The distance between women working in rural Kenyan communities and the U.S. market is astronomical. With consumers becoming increasingly interested in knowing where their products come from, business owners need to address their demand sustainably. This presents an entirely new market opportunity for the artisan sector, parallel to the pioneering Fair Trade coffee movement. 

Together, let's build an ecosystem of organizations like Bloom + Grace to address the gaps between producers, retailers, suppliers, and consumers. With a focus on sustainability and shared learnings, we can together tackle the sector barriers that no single organization can achieve alone. 

Learn more about the panel here

First published: (3/18/2016)