Living on opposite sides of the globe (one in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve and the other on an outback station in Western Australia), sisters and stay at home mums, Kate Boston and Rachael Steadman, decided it was time to get back into business. Both feeling the need to engage their brains, on a rare night together in Australia (over a bottle of wine or two!) they came up with their concept: Tinkered by.
A social impact brand, Tinkered by source handmade jewellery, homewares, toys and beautiful hand-woven woollen rugs from artisans in East Africa. Working in partnership with the makers — who share their dream of creating meaningful opportunity in vulnerable communities — they are developing each artisans’ business through connecting them to the global market. “Tinkered by is using business for good,” explains Kate. “We are not aid or hand-outs. We are building sustainable businesses and creating the opportunity for positive market place transactions between our artisans and the world. No guilt, no hiding, no pity, just unbelievably well crafted, unique and gorgeous handmade products.”
[contextly_sidebar id=”zSHMPZg0QIOKYMH09PtXVnXZ0xOE4KLz”]Engaging 18 businesses and approximately 90 individuals, all the artisans use traditional skills and whatever materials are on hand. “Each artisan group specialises in a particular medium and traditional skill. For example casting with recycled metals and shaping cow horns and bones for jewellery and homewares; using recycled glass, ostrich egg shells and tyre tubes to create beads for jewellery making; spinning raw wool and hand weaving on the loom for our rugs; and the list goes on!”
Starting in late 2013, Tinkered by have already been able to shine the light on their artisans and give their wares a global audience. However, for the sisters, what’s been even more important is being able to clear up some very common misconceptions about poverty. “Living in Kenya revealed a very different take on the idea of poverty for me,” says Kate. “I had a set of preconceived ideas about what poverty ‘looked like,’ that people’s lives were wrought with devastation, sadness and suffering. That they were helpless souls. But I had it all upside down! Our artisans’ stories are about strong, smart, hard-working entrepreneurial people who are waking up each morning and working hard to make their families’ lives a little better. These are seriously proud people and they have every right to be.”