Lead artisan Wu Mengxi screen prints a design motif on fabric
Wu Xiangfan, known for her sewing in the village, poses with her foot-operated sewing machine
Wu Mengxi, Lead Artisan
Wu Huazhuan 吴花传 (Mrs Li)
Wu Xuemei 吴雪梅: Mengxi's sister-in-law
Wu Xihua 吴习花: Mengxi's younger sister
Wu Dehua 吴德花: Mengxi's 1st daughter-in-law
Wu Luqian 吴鲁倩：Mengxi's 3rd daughter-in-law
Wu Lianjian 吴莲建: Mengxi's 4th daughter-in-law
Duan Caiyun 段彩云: Mengxi's granddaughter
Wu Xiangfan 吴香凡
Wu Yinnong 吴寅侬
The Kam Minority project has helped found a fair-trade cooperative workshop of Dimen artisans who produce contemporary ware grounded in local aesthetics and using local resources. At this point, we have completed the first round of production and are testing at several markets in USA. We have more than ten artisans involved. They use hand-made and hand-dyed fabric that is produced either by them or by their relatives who indirectly benefit by the product sales by earning money for the materials that would have been traditionally produced only for the immediate family use.
Once we ascertain quality, refine delivery and iron out other details, we will approach fair-trade certified wholesalers and scale up our production. We will need to get a steady stream of orders in order to be able to provide steady income to the artisans and grow our ranks. We hope that in time, we will provide employment for a number of artisans who will make fair living in the village and will not have to work in faraway factories.
All profits will be directly invested in the community with the artisans deciding on the specifics. We want to encourage the artisans to promote local indentity and pride through organizing workshops for children and young adults.
The 2014 Holiday production was overseen by Joyce Huang from the Dimen Eco Museum. Wu Mengxi, who has been a key point person in the village throughout the who Kam Heritage Project, has taken the role of the lead artisan. Besides developing early prototypes through collaboration with Lee and Huang, Wu has created many of the products and recruited her friends for the cooperative.
Marie Lee and her team of three undergraduate students are coordinating the test marketing and sales in USA with the help and expertise of professor Katherine Combellick from Fordham University in New York who runs ‘The Amani Project’ and experienced marketer Lowayne Shieh from Los Angeles. University of the Pacific International Marketing class of Spring 2014 by Sacha Joseph-Mathews will help develop a marketing plan.
Dimen cooperative at work
Dimen women spinning yarn, weaving and indigo-dyeing fabric
Dimen women weaving flower belts on backstrap looms