By Marc Choyt


Artisan-Own Direct Distribution * Fair Trade for Artisans


In January, 2009, I visited the home ground of a model economic project in a traditional jewelry-making village about a half-hour by taxi from the colonial silver town of Taxco, Mexico.  We were most graciously hosted by lovely old lady who graciously provided a sleeping place and served us up an astonishingly delicious dish of ranch chicken in chocolate sauce.


The idea of an artisan direct marketing model


The idea of an artisan-direct marketing model is a long-term project to re-establish successful artisan economics in the Taxco area cottage industry (and, by extension, to cottage industry production communities elsewhere).   In these our times, economic success seems to be a chimera  …if anyone is going to light the way to economic success, it might well be the producers.


Artisan-Owned Direct Distribution Has Been a Long Time Coming


Over years, necessity led to invention.  The craftswomen’s cooperative eventually came out with a practical and entirely original economic model revolutionizing the process by which jewelry made in the third-world comes to the market, and to the public. The evolution of the Artisan Owned Directed Distribution Model (AODDM) is a long story, in its initial phase (years 2000-2005)  support  and financing was sought  from a myriad of websites promoting “an end to poverty” and “helping third world communities”, and such.  The AODDM, however, never got traction with NGO agencies.


“Alternative” Commercial Models


In terms of the selection, ordering, and payments-management requirements imposed upon the artisan-producers, the “alternative” commercial models actually reflect identical patterns of the same-old same-old commercial procedures.   That this is so was not usually guile on the part of fair trade practitioners, so much as an engrained idealistic belief structure and conditioned habits since childhood of typical angloamerican and european cultural commercial thought patterns and behavior.


Looking For a Credible Economic Model that Works for Artisans and Producers


Whether it has been guile or ignorance – either way – the craftspeople never did receive  benefits from these systematic and endlessly touted intentions to implement a credible alternative commercial model. The craftspeople found themselves even worse off than before; and still, totally unable to take their destiny in their own hands, …always having to endure humiliation, and privation.

This idea of a commercial model benefitting producers thus has its roots in mortal necessity coupled with the artisan’s close familiarity with the ways in which the consolidators and wholesalers practice.


People are Sick and Allergic to Commercial Marketing


People are sick of commercial marketing; at the same time, they passionately desire to acquire authentic handcrafted products, especially jewelry.  The potential first-world customers of third-world jewelry producers have become allergic to commercial tactics, and hollow humanitarian appeals.  The people of today are increasingly turned off by sophisticated commercial presentations which they have come to perceive as mere vulgar, conventional, buy-sell money-making operations.


By the Artisans, and On Behalf of the Artisans


The artisan own direct marketing model project (AODDM) represents a fundamental re-ordering of the priorities of commercial economics to benefit the interests of the creators and producers; it does this by locating economic value in the creative product, rather than in its nominal monetary cost-price scorekeeping. It is NO surprise that the artisans have fashioned an alternative commercial model that is suitable to their own interests.  For artisans to have to support so many persons who are “helping them” and marketing using their good name, is, finally, scarcely feasible.


The Mexican Women and the USA Migration of their Men


Over the years, many local have left their home villages, migrating to the USA to work illegally. Often, these men make other families over there, and consequently there are abandoned women and families all across the Mexican countryside.  The parents and grandparents of these women gave to these women, an important tradition of handcraft jewelry, so they turned their attention to traditional jewelry making work, to support themselves, and their children and old people.


The Problem With Being Authentic


How does an authentic social project, with a terrible need to for their men to return home, escape the trap of burnt out commercialism?  These are native women whose instincts are not of making money.  Rather, upon an ancient history of village communalism coupled with individualism. The artisan is not “trying to make money”.  The producer truly desires to have her distributor take all the profit margins, if only the distributor would understand her, and cooperate with her; if only the distributor will respect her experience and judgment by letting her establish how it to make it work.


How To Explain?


The Artisan Own Direct Distribution Model in 2013 is a concept so simple it is very hard to explain to persons who have been born and raised and lived their entire life in the societies of Angloamerica and Europe.  This does not mean it is any easier to explain it to modern Mexicans.  It’s not.  The AODDM is an indigenous implement, needing, not explanation, rather, productive use.


New World Women



Maria Alaniz attempts to explain, what I struggle to express regarding
an exciting entirely new and revolutionary commercial economic model.