Artisan Spotlight: Lanh from Vietnam
A Hand Carved Heritage
In rural Vietnam, craft villages have been practicing heirloom art forms for hundreds of years. Each village specializes in a different craft, from embroidery to metalworking to marble carving. These crafts are an important piece of the local culture. Centuries ago, these rural Artisans were responsible for creating beautiful works of art for the royal families of Vietnam to display in their palaces. These special craft traditions have been preserved to this day – and now modern-day entrepreneurs are harnessing them to bring income their communities.
Lanh grew up in a rural village outside of Hanoi where many people lived in poverty. Most families relied on rice farming to survive, but unpredictable harvests and global market prices made it difficult for farmers to earn a sustainable income. Lanh knew that her village had something special to offer the world – the hand carved water buffalo horn crafts they had been creating for centuries. She dreamed of harnessing this craft tradition to bring a source of fair, reliable income to her friends and neighbors.
“Growing up, I saw my great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents work with horn,” Lanh shares. “ I learned from them and when I got married, my husband and I wanted to continue this tradition.” When Lanh and her husband welcomed their first child, they became even more committed to their dream of starting a horn business. “We knew we could work hard to develop this business, and one day our son could enjoy this work with us.”
Beginning to Dream
The couple started out with some personal goals for their business – to build their own house and send their son to a good school. But Lanh also harbored some very big dreams. She wanted to create horn pieces that people all over the world would love and enjoy.
For ten years, Lanh and her husband worked to grow their business, but they could never find a reliable market for their goods. They needed someone to connect their beautiful works of art to the people who wanted to purchase them – and that’s when they met David.
Partnering for Good
A British ex-pat, David had been working in Vietnam for years with the goal of creating opportunity for rural Vietnamese Artisans. He saw the enormous potential of small, locally run businesses like Lanh’s to create reliable sources of income – and he wanted to help them succeed. David’s organization began partnering with Lanh to help her create designs that would appeal to a global market while connecting her to fair trade buyers. It was through David that we were introduced to this incredibly gifted entrepreneur and began to dream up fashion-forward designs for her unique skills.
We have partnered with David and Lanh for over three years, providing consistent orders and helping connect Lanh to a growing market for her beautiful horn accessories. In partnership with David and buyers around the world, Lanh’s business has blossomed – and her vision of sharing her village’s traditional craft with the world has become a reality!
A Growing Impact
Today, Lanh and her team create some of our most captivating styles. And because her pieces have been such a success with our customers, we have been able to expand our impact in Vietnam to include two other traditional craft villages! Today, we collaborate with Lanh’s horn business, a marble carving business, and a metalworking business to create styles that capture the beauty of partnership. By combining these three villages’ unique heritage crafts, we have helped our talented Artisan Partners open up brand new possibilities for their products.
Lanh is a perfect example of a strong female entrepreneur using her gifts to create opportunity for others. When she saw a problem in her community, she didn’t let the obstacles get in her way. Instead, she harnessed the strengths that already existed within her community to create incredible opportunities for her friends and neighbors – and she’s not slowing down any time soon.
“As our business gets bigger, we wish to develop more jobs for young people in our village and in other villages where they do not have a traditional skill,” Lanh says proudly. “All the people in my family have practiced this horn carving craft. We are so thankful that we have this traditional job and we love teaching the young people of our village to carry this craft on too.”
Want to create a marketplace for Lanh and other Artisans around the world? Host a Trunk Show
Meet Jenna Tanner
Jenna is Noonday’s Content Curator and loves to write about fair trade, social justice and Artisans around the world. She also enjoys marathoning her favorite TV shows with her husband, playing intense games of Ticket to Ride, and searching for the best tacos in Austin (let her know if you find them!).