THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE PRODUCTS YOU LOVE
Behind every handmade product is a person — a person with a story. And a reason why they make the products they do. But a surprising number of those stories are never told. Because the artisans are never asked. At Obakki, we want to change all that.
We understand that every piece is shaped by the artist’s past and often, shaped by ancestral techniques that have been handed down through many generations. And the pieces are also shaped by the indigenous materials that the artists have access to work with. Clay from Mexico. Banana leaves from Africa. Glass from Italy.
At Obakki, we meet personally with every artisan partner to learn about their motivation and their challenges. We work with them to overcome any issues and to establish their products in international markets. Our goal is for them to succeed.
Products with Meaning and Purpose
These products are personal for the artists—they aren’t being produced for mass consumption. They are slow design, created with meaning and purpose. And they become personal for our clients, who learn the story behind their product. When you purchase the beautifully handcrafted pieces at Obakki, you are helping to preserve culture, tradition, and craftsmanship.
Picture this—your next dinner party. Whether you are serving salad from an African bowl that was handmade by Amadou, who learned his craft on his father’s knee at the age of eight – or you are lighting a Japanese candle that uses a special wax dating back to the 16th century, the story is a fascinating topic for the table. And your product will mean far more than something you picked up from a shelf of 20 identical items. The knowledge of its history, its significance and its value to the artisan also becomes value for you.
There is a strong connection between the person who made the product and the person who uses and appreciates it. We are all connected but especially those who share their story, and those who hold that story in their hands. Our artisan partners feel pride in knowing their work is respected. And that is an important element for growth in any artistic endeavour – knowing your work is valued.
The Ties that Bind Us
The ties between the artist and the product do not break. We stay in touch, and we share the appreciation that our clients have for their pieces with our artisans – who have never had such feedback. Some of them cry. All of them are grateful and feel valued.
As an ethical consumer, you could not help but feel great pride in carrying our African textile weekender bag and being part of Judith's Story. And part of her ability to recover from an incredibly traumatic experience. And so many of you bought these bags, that Judith has been able to hire two more women to help her sew – and to help them in their own recovery from trauma.
Every Product Tells a Story
In Kenya, Margaret’s story is told through the colours, patterns, and shapes she chooses when she weaves her baskets. Each piece of Sylvester’s upcycled brass jewelry in Nairobi has his story forged into it. Our potters in Oaxaca tell us how proud they are to hear that people from different corners of the world value their work and have learned about their customs and traditions.
We believe in slow design, intentional purchasing, and artisan recognition. We believe in people. And we believe in their stories, especially the ones that are yet to be written.
SHOP ARTISAN-MADE PRODUCTS
Glass blowing has been around for some time, invented by Syrian craftsmen more than 2,500 years ago. When purchasing quality glassware or art glass, you should consider the aesthetics, the origin, and the type of glasswork.
What happens if a young man wants to propose to his love in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico? He must first ask her parents for her hand in marriage and must present the family with what is known as a ‘marriage candle’. Doña Viviana invented these candles. And now, they are a tradition.
His workshop is Manos Que Ven (Hands That See). The artisan is Jose Garcia Antonio, a sculptor who lost his sight in the 1950s, due to glaucoma. And now, he sculpts his wife’s face, so that he will never forget what she looks like.