Blogs

Language in Tajikistan

flowerSalom, everyone. Last week's Feedback Friday survey included a question about which languages are spoken in Tajikistan. Most people knew that Tajik (or "Tajiki" as they say in Tajik) and Russian were the principal languages used in Tajikistan. Russian was the lingua franca and official government language during Soviet times. After independence (1991), Tajik became the official national language showmore

Suzani:  Zerafshan to HoonArts, Part 1-Creating the Design

Hello. My name is Rikki Quintana and I am the founder of HoonArts Fair Trade. I’m often asked how do we get our products here to the U.S. from Tajikistan, which is landlocked in the middle of Central Asia. I thought the easiest way to explain that would be to tell you a little bit about the production process of one of our products. What I have here today are a couple of small suzani wall hangings, known as pannos in Tajikistan, that combine traditionaol suzani embroidery work and traditional patchwork or “quroq” work.  This is the quroq work showmore

Fair Trade Catch 22:  Fair Trade is Not "Handmade"

When I started HoonArts back in late 2014, I knew I didn’t know much of anything about retail, marketing or handicrafts. In fact, I dropped out of Girl Scouts at a young age because I hated selling Girl Scout cookies, and I gave up band in high school because I didn’t want to sell any more band candy or participate in fundraising. I considered myself hopeless at creating my own art. I successfully avoiding all marketing and “rainmaking” during my 31 years as a practicing business law attorney.  What inspired me to jump off the cliff and start a Fair Trade handicrafts business was the prospect of opening the US market to Tajik handicrafts for the first time, and building a sustainable market that would create new economic opportunities for impoverished artisans in the small Central Asian country of Tajikistan. Marketing and sales were just “details” to be figured out along the way showmore 

Suzani Pillows:  Tradition Transformed for the Modern Home

One of the most prominent types of large-scale Tajik embroidery is Suzani. (In modern parlance, "Suzani" refers to both the large wall-size traditional embroidered tapestry and the embroidery style, used on clothing, home decor and accessories.) It plays an important role not only in the decoration of the home, but also in the life of the people and the pride of traditional folk art. Suzani embodies an extraordinary variety of ornamental design: the harmony of proportions, beauty, expressiveness, and exceptional craftsmanship invoking admiration at the skill of the makers and the value of cultural tradition. Tajik Suzani is a wall hanging carpet or tapestry, embroidered with silk or lace satin stitched onto a cotton, silk, or velvet base, often trimmed with lace or black cloth. The composition is typically an open landscape with colorful rosettes and symbolic motifs showmore

Suzani and Ikat Pillows (Fair Trade)

Traditionally Suzani refers to a wall-sized tapestry, but Americans don’t typically decorate their walls with small size tapestries so what they’ve done is they've taken the technique and created modern products to appeal to modern buyers. Suzani comes from the Persian word suzan which means needle. Suzani refers to the large wall hangings and it also refers to the hand-made embroidery technique the needle and thread embroidery technique. Pretty much everybody in Central Asia uses the ikats made in Margilan, Uzbekistan. They used to do ikat weaving in other parts of Central Asia including the Khujand area skilled died off, but in Margilan it's still a very strong local craft so the ikats that are combined with the Suzani embroidery is one of the unique techniques that Armugon handicrafts uses showmore

Product Selection: Market Feedback When There is No Market

I'm often asked how we choose products at HoonArts, especially since most of our products come from Tajikistan and have no established market and traditional "market research" is impossible. That is one of the great challenges of starting a new Fair Trade import business.  I selected the original products based upon photographs, gifts brought from Tajikistan, input from friends and colleagues, and guesses about which products would be most likely to sell in the US.  We have always tried to focus on products that are noticeably distinct from other handicraft imports, particularly those that are readily found in New Mexico.  That means, for example, that we avoid products that look too much like Native American crafts or crafts from Latin America.  We also try to look for high quality products that can compete on price with comparable products from other countries and regions showmore

Suzani Pillows:  Tradition Transformed for the Modern Home

One of the most prominent types of large-scale Tajik embroidery is Suzani. (In modern parlance, "Suzani" refers to both the large wall-size traditional embroidered tapestry and the embroidery style, used on clothing, home decor and accessories.) It plays an important role not only in the decoration of the home, but also in the life of the people and the pride of traditional folk art. Suzani embodies an extraordinary variety of ornamental design: the harmony of proportions, beauty, expressiveness, and exceptional craftsmanship invoking admiration at the skill of the makers and the value of cultural tradition. Tajik Suzani is a wall hanging carpet or tapestry, embroidered with silk or lace satin stitched onto a cotton, silk, or velvet base, often trimmed with lace or black cloth. The composition is typically an open landscape with colorful rosettes and symbolic motifs showmore

MUNIRA AKILOVA:  Artist, Designer, Teacher, Community Leader

One of the great joys of building the HoonArts business is having direct access to an insider's view of the people, culture, history and more associated with the business. Our new Beyond Tourism blog is designed to give you access to that insider's view.  Each issue will contain an in-depth look at some aspect of life along the Great Silk Road.  In this inaugural issue, we are delighted to provide a more detailed profile of Munira Akilova, our primary textile expert and coordinator in Tajikistan showmore   

UNESCO Award of Excellence

combAs we launch our online store at HoonArts, we are proud to offer several unique handcrafted products from Tajikistan that have received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts (formerly known as the "Seal of Excellence").  These products include (1) hand-carved wooden combs by Master Sodiq Zaripov, (2) the aroma lamp and the teapot with cups by ceramics master Saidov Sukhrob, and (3) the "Tuppi" hanging ornaments from Munira Akilova at Arinumcrafts showmore

THE PERPETUAL SHIPPING CHALLENGE

Anyone who has ever run a Fair Trade business will tell you that shipping is a perpetual challenge.  When we decided to start HoonArts last October, we knew that shipping would be be one of our first hurdles, since Tajikistan is a land-locked country in Central Asia. That means, of course, that there are no ports and none of the shipping containers that we see on television. We had explored various shipping options between the US and Tajikistan via our sister organization Bridges to Tajikistan when we began shipping books to Tajikistan showmore

BIRTH OF A FAIR TRADE BUSINESS

By Rikki Quintana, Owner and CEO

Are you a world traveler who is tired of bringing home cheap tourist souvenirs? Have you ever connected with an amazing artisan in some exotic locale, and wondered how you could bring their products to the US? Have you ever considered creating your own Fair Trade business, and then said to yourself, “Oh no, I could never do that! I’m terrible at sales”? Then my new “Fair Trade Caravan” blog is for you.  Come join me on the journey to the heart of the Great Silk Road in Central Asia.  Along the way, we’ll explore the why’s and how’s and up’s and down’s of creating a new Fair Trade handicrafts business showmore

Ikat: Fair Trade Authenticity or Commercial Fad?         

Many of our textile products at HoonArts include authentic ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan in Central Asia. If you do a Google search, you fill find that “ikat” is a very trendy item. Not long ago, I saw a full page advertising spread in Travel and Leisure which was promoting all things “ikat,” with a focus on Central Asian patterns. What was most interesting to me, though, was that not a single product on the page appeared to use authentic ikat fabrics, but rather, all seemed to be factory manufactured products, using American designs. So I thought I would share with you some information about authentic Central Asian ikats and the place and culture from which they come. “Ikat” is a dyeing technique used to create patterns on fabric by employing a resist dyeing process on the threads prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric showmore 

LATEST NEWS:

latest newsHoonArts Fair Trade has just returned from our participation at the 2018 Las Vegas Market with the Aid to Artisans "TEAM" project. At this first foray into the wholesale market, we made many new connections and learned a tremendous amount from the experts. We look forward to expanding both our wholesale and retail presence as part of our mission to build a sustainable US market for our artisans.
HoonArts CEO Rikki Quintana with fellow-TEAM participant at the 2018 Las Vegas Market.