Eve Blossom and Lulan Artisans

 This post is by guest blogger, Eve Blossom who leads Lulan Artisans  and author of Material Change is our guest on this week’s Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. She is passionate about creating a collaborative business model that sets the stage for the artisans to have economic and social sustainability. Please join us to explore “Love, Design and Business” this Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog.

Business: What Moves You, Grabs You, Won’t Let You Go

I started my career in Architecture and in 1995 was fortunate enough to live and work in Hanoi, renovating old French villas. During my first few months in Hanoi, I witnessed first-hand a transaction where a young girl was sold by her father to a European man for sex.  She was 6 years old. I tried to intervene. I was threatened at knifepoint.  I was unsuccessful in changing the outcome for that little girl.

 That night, I had a striking realization.  I began to see Human Trafficking as a marketplace— where unfortunately the commodity is a person. I could see clearly that Human Trafficking is an economic market that needs to be addressed at an economic level.

 

As I researched Human Trafficking, I learned that prevention is key — because the traumatizing effects are devastating.

 

I learned that urban migration trends are also important because people are vulnerable when moving into unfamiliar cities.

 

I learned that artisans are one of the groups at-risk for falling into Human Trafficking because their incomes are often below poverty level.

As a business-woman, I know that utilizing untapped resources-talent that is already trained, skilled and organized- is one the most successful ways to start a business.  Artisans are already trained in centuries old methods, skilled with unique talents & organized into cooperatives.

Design: Of Product and of Business Model

Innovation is seeing problems in a new way and using new models to solve them. Innovation is coming out of the context of our times, the cultural consciousness of us all.At these extraordinary times, this is what is required of us.

As a trained architect and designer, the best way for me to leverage my expertise and address these issues is by building a business to give artisans stable jobs.

So, in 2004, I started Lulan Artisans-a social venture to generate livelihoods for artisans to prevent Human Trafficking.

We design & produce hand-woven fabrics. We currently work with over 650 weavers, dyers & spinners from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and India. These are some of the countries with the highest rates of trafficking.

 

We connect the artisans with multiple markets by using contemporary design aesthetics to create strong economic opportunities. This type of model is here to stay.

The future of business and design is changing dramatically. The new ways of thinking are revolutionizing the business of design and the design of business at the core.

This is social entrepreneurship and it is a movement. There are already millions of us- individuals and organizations- inside this movement throughout the world, occurring in every corner of the globe and in every business sector, focusing on systemic social change.

Love: Containers of Collaboration and Core Vision

Most people believe they are building a company. I would argue that you’re not.  I would argue that what you are really creating is a container for collaboration — a place where deep relationships and partnerships flourish. Something that is even stronger…that ends up having a life of its own.The very nature of this structure creates an invitation.

People show up. They validate the work. They spark new ideas.

People’s contributions are palpable. They remind us that there is energy in the interconnection of our activities beyond the original source, the company itself. It’s not about the founder or about the products or the service. It is about the collaboration of all that is possible that we can do together around important social issues.

We say all the time how passionate entrepreneurs are about their ideas. We are comfortable speaking about passion within business. But we also need to be comfortable speaking about love and compassion within business.

Love and business can be combined with successful models that are profitable and honor our humanity. I saw up close human traffickers’ efficient, savvy, profitable business that lacks any compassion or love at all. We can only win this struggle if we are as determined, as savvy through businesses that, in addition, have love & compassion on our side.

 

*Consider yourself invited to discuss this topic of  “Love, Design and Business” on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog on Friday, February 17th at 12pm ET/5pm BST/9am PT so I hope you can join us. If not, please add your thoughts below.

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