We see craft as belonging to the future as well as the past. It can and should provide traditional and rural artisan communities with fair wages and create economic opportunities which enable them to build and grow their own enterprises. We are committed to improving the social and economic conditions of the artisans themselves ~ as defined by them.
WATI was born from a deep reverence and respect for the richness of the indigenious cultures from which these crafts derive, and everything we have learnt from them continues to inform and inspire who we are and what we do. Craft is a potent way of showcasing the richness, diversity and importance of traditional cultures worldwide, many of whose lives and traditions are under threat.
As a socially driven business we work directly and in collaboration with all artisans ~ dreaming, planning and developing to meet the best outcome for everyone involved. We believe the best ideas and solutions come from the collective and we work to champion different approaches to communicating and doing business with collaboration at the heart.
While craft is under constant threat from mass production, to know the journey of an object from raw material to final piece becomes increasingly powerful and important. We want to create awareness of the people, places and processes behind our possessions and to promote the value of craft and the connection it creates.
We are a Colombian- British family currently living between the U.K & Colombia. Having lived and travelled extensively in Colombia, WATI collective was born in 2017.
As makers ourselves, we have always admired the skill of Colombian artisans, along with their rich cultures and traditions. Through our many adventures and encounters we found ourselves in Nabusimake - the sacred valley of the Arhuaco people, high in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Here, we heard directly from women in this community the challenges they faced in selling their crafts at the price they deserved.
This is when we decided to find a way to support these incredible women, and work with other skilled artisans who faced similar challenges.
From then, we began to meet with other indigenous artisans and started to bring Colombian crafts back to the U.K with the purpose of building sustainable income for artisans, while cultivating a sense of connection to the culture and traditions from which the crafts derive.
We have seen the increase in tourism and interest in Colombian culture boom in the last few years, but many artisans are still struggling to find outlets which pay them fairly for their work. In some cases, increase in demand and production has even driven the price of slow- made traditional crafts down, as cheaper and often synthetic replicas are being produced to meet the demand.
For all of the artisan groups we work with, their crafts are much more than a beautiful object or something which provides them with income, they are expressions of their rich cultural identities - past and present and examples of their ancestral wisdom and skills.