Baskets empower artisans in Vietnam
We live in a world where technology is constantly making things faster and more efficient. But sometimes taking the time to learn from traditional ways – and blend them with new ones – produces amazing results. Far out in the Vietnamese countryside amongst rice paddies and grazing water buffalo, our NORDRANA crocheted baskets, and the modern handicraft centres where they are made, are improving the lives of local artisans.
When developing the NORDRANA hand-crocheted baskets, we thought a lot about how to produce handmade products on a large scale. In Vietnam our designers worked with skilled local crochet experts to develop designs. And we listened carefully, finding ways to modernise the work environment and improve working conditions and wages for the 4,000 weavers, mainly women, involved in making the baskets.
Better conditions and more social life
Vietnam’s basket weavers have traditionally worked from home. But now, in cooperation with our suppliers, we’ve created seven basket-weaving handicraft centres where craftspeople go to work in comfortable and modern conditions. They are paid higher wages and have flexible work hours to help them combine family life with work.
There are several advantages to working this way; everyone has a contract and the craftspeople only need to record the hours they are present. It’s also easy to understand that workmates and social community play a big role when you hear the murmur of chatter and laughter during a visit to a handicraft centre.
Higher wages boost self-confidence
One woman who is benefitting from the change is 41-year-old Én Nguyèn Thi. In 2015 she began working at one of our weaving centres – nestled between rice fields near Thai Binh, three hours south of Hanoi.
“It’s a big change compared to working at home,” she says. “We work inside and under cover. We earn more money. And working together and helping each other is fun!”
Today Én earns four times more than before. A higher wage has also done wonders for Én’s self-confidence and raised her status at home with the family.
“I’m more of an equal partner with my husband now,” she says.
Better work life balance
Another weaver, Nguyen Thi Thao, 30, also finds herself living a new life.
“I used to work at home,” she says, “but it was difficult to concentrate with two small children, ten chickens and a pregnant pig, plus rice fields and a vegetable plot to take care of.”
Now Nguyen works eight hours a day, five days a week.
“I have more time to play with my children in the evenings and I still earn more than I used to,” she says.
Opportunity and empowerment in a basket
The craftspeople at our seven basket-weaving handicraft centres have now produced millions of NORDRANA baskets for sale in our stores around the world. And for many of them, handicraft is their first formal job outside the home. So, when you buy NORDRANA baskets you’re not only adding something beautiful to your home, you’re also part of helping improve lives and empowering the women in Vietnam who make them.