I am obviously big fans of my vendors and I want you guys to see their work and become big fans too. There’s a meme that has been circulating on social media for a few years that reads “When you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance.” I want to share their stories so that you understand that when you shop with me, a real person, you shop with them, and they are also real people!
First up is Laura of Amsha Studio.
What made you launch Amsha?
Prior to 2012, I had traveled, volunteered, and worked throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in Kenya. I’ve always been passionate about the importance of education and self-sufficiency, and yet what I witnessed was extreme poverty, lack of market access for artisans, and an overwhelming number of children not attending school. It was a number of experiences and ideas that led me to start Amsha. My educational background is in design and business, and I knew I wanted to help people in East Africa in a long-term and sustainable manner. While I believe aid is necessary and instrumental in certain sectors, I knew that handouts were not a solution for unemployed adults. Business is a powerful tool for fighting poverty, and I had met so many artisans with a strong skillset but lack of market to sell their goods. This is how the idea of Amsha was born- we are a social impact business with a passion for people, our planet, and ethically made goods.
What has been your biggest challenge or success?
When you run a business in multiple (developing) countries, there are SO many challenges. After almost six years of running Amsha, I can say that I am learning new things every day and solving issues with production, export, and import. Challenges of quality control, sourcing materials consistently, and having orders arrive on time (our latest air freight shipment from Rwanda has currently been lost by the airlines and we are trying to find it) are, and will continue to be, challenges that we must work around. But the rewards and successes make it all worthwhile. Our brass artisan Moses has been working with us for several years now, and we have witnessed the impact it has had on his family. He has moved into a bigger home and is earning a consistent income for his family. Our sales have tripled this year, which means we have expanded quite a bit and been able to take on new artisan partners.
How has Amsha impacted your life?
Amsha has impacted my life in so many ways. Personally, I have learned a great deal about patience and how to persist even when things seem really difficult. I feel challenged by something new each day (which I love!) and working directly with our artisans, and seeing the impact on their lives, brings me an insane amount of joy.
Why should people shop small?
When you shop small, every dollar you spend is making a direct impact on someone’s livelihood. Your dollars benefit those that are making or selling you a service or item, rather than getting diluted down to pennies. Shopping small also benefits your local economy and provides more accountability for ethical and sustainable business practices.
What should people know about Amsha?
Everything! But in all seriousness, people should know that all of us at Amsha are committed to bringing you quality, ethically-made goods and improving the lives of artisans in East Africa. We truly believe in our work and the work of our artisans, and strive every day to bring you the best items for yourself and your home.
If you want to learn more about Laura and Amsha you can do that here
You can shop baskets from Amsha in the Living section on Sticki Icki.