Direct Trade and the art of fair pricing terms

Direct trade pricing: right for artisan and consumer Polished Coconut core commitment to fairness, empowerment and quality elevates every transaction.

For ten years, I have sold higher end crafts and ancestral fashion and accessories from indigenous communities around the globe. I started in Miami's nascent farmers market working with three core products: handmade belts from Mexico, mochilas Wayuu from Venezuela and handloomed hammocks from the Zenu culture in the mountains of Colombia. At that time, my philosophy was clear that in order to truly help the indigenous artisans with long term economic development, what they were paid and what the customer paid had to align with my business's core values: fairness, empowerment and quality. 

Over the years, the prices of these three core products, which now are only a small fraction of the forty plus variety of handmade products sold in our retail store in Coconut Grove, have increased by ten percent to the end consumer. Our cost of goods with the artisans has increased by 25 percent clearly outpacing the price increases to our customers. The price of labor and primary material have both rise. Global demand has put pressure on pricing. The number of buyers for the mochila Wayuu has increased exponentially putting tremendous pressure on quality control and price stability. Early on, in 2009, Polished Coconut organized cooperative groups to organize production, maintain superior quality and elevate design innovation. Our core values of fairness, empowerment and quality has help the artisan, created a loyal and growing customer base, and helped our own business grow. 

Over time, our products have excelled to their highest design expression. I personally sit with the artisans and create color ways and designs to make their craft more exportable, marketable and reachable to the marketplace I serve without compromising the integrity of thee ancestral art. Polished Coconut's commitment to pay artisans above fair market pricing and with direct trade on a consistent schedule has empowered these communities to rely on cash flow and make longer term decisions about housing, education and health rather than short term survival needs like food and transportation. We have in multiple cases broken the hand to mouth cycle with a longer vision approach to development. 

During these years, we have endured currency fluctuations, natural catastrophes like drought and political upheaval in neighboring Venezuela. We have watched upscale online retailers charge hundreds of dollars for products that are worth far less undermining the long term sustainability of an artisan's chance to source on an ongoing and consistent basis. Pricing for the artisans is as important to the dialogue as is fair pricing to the end consumer. We have remained firm in our belief that our role in these communities and our long term investment creatively and socioeconomically has improved the lives of hundreds of families. 

Our commitment hasn't changed: fairness, empowerment and quality. And for this reason, we believe we will continue to support communities around the world sourcing exceptional craft for years to come. 

Alicia Kossick

alicia kossick