16 Sep What is an Artisan?
I’m on the plane returning from one of the most impactful workshops I’ve ever attended. I spent two and a half days in New York City learning from one of the world’s leading brands, guided by an organization that is passionate about empowering local craft and accompanied by some of this country’s most talented craftsmen. I’m not sure if I can put it into words, but I’m going to try.
When I started this VTC journey, I didn’t know what an artisan was. Do you? Well, I’m gonna tell ‘ya. An artisan is a skilled worker who has mastered a trade using traditional techniques and high quality materials. It takes time, dedication, care, passion, expertise, knowledge, practice and refinement to achieve. It’s not commonplace. There is a difference between someone who can make a clay pot and a master potter. Just like there is a difference between someone who likes to exercise and eat well and a physician. But somewhere along the way, as the world became industrialized and tech-ified, we came to admire (and pay) those with a paper degree and discredit those whose expertise is more physical. We’ve come to believe that if a machine can make it or instructions can be found online, the end product is just as valuable as the hand-crafted version. This is simply. Not. True.
I’m not an artisan. I won’t pretend to be one and I don’t plan to become one. But I know some. In fact, I know 10 who work in a happy little sewing shop in Dallas and who happen to be from all corners of the world. Some are further along their journey to “Master” than others. Some are motivated by little hungry bellies at home and others are motivated by their own determination to succeed. But they’re all artisans. That’s what we do at Vickery Trading. We create artisans. We take skill and talent and refine it and nurture it and launch it into the world so everyone can see the beauty they create. Our brand and the goods we create reflect the heart and hard work of the women we employ.
So often, artisanal crafts are passed down through families for generations. Grandmothers teach granddaughters quilting. Fathers teach sons carpentry. Our artisans often no longer have family to teach them. They lost their family to tragedy or were separated from them in resettlement. We get to be that family – that place of nurture and encouragement.
Because of this, I know the time, dedication, care, passion, expertise, knowledge, practice and refinement it takes to grow an artisan. And I will not settle for anyone minimizing their time or skill by underpaying them for their work. I will not discredit their craft by cutting prices on the handcrafted goods that Vickery Trading sells.
I realized my unique position this week – Advocate. I saw deep into the heart of a company that builds their entire organization on preserving and honoring artisan craft. I realized how very important craftsmanship is and it changed me. I’m motivated to be an even stronger advocate for the women I serve and the work we do. I’m also committed to helping you as the consumer understand what you are supporting when you invest in a Vickery Trading Company piece.
So watch out, world. I’m committed to the work of VTC more than ever before. I’m committed to training women in a craft that can not only put them on the path to self-sufficiency, but bring dignity and honor to their work. And they won’t just work for some clothes company. They’ll be artisan seamstresses in their own right. And I can’t wait to (continue to) watch it happen.