Mission and History
“To improve the economic and social standing of underprivileged people in the world by reinforcing local economies and creating self-sustainable employment through just and responsible practices.”
Here at Handmade Expressions, we believe that economic sustainability and social empowerment are the keys for community development. We partner with disadvantaged artisan communities in India, providing them with sustainable employment and fair wages to help improve their economic and social standings.
These artisan communities are rich with unique, traditional art forms but lack access to and knowledge of outside markets and modern design trends. We aim to bridge this gap by providing the artisans with the necessary resources to produce functional goods that incorporate their traditional arts with the design trends of the Western market. These handmade products are then promoted in international markets, aiming to give our artisan partners self-sufficiency, self-confidence and enable them to recognize the true worth of their beautiful art.
Along with providing sustainable employment to improve the economic and social standings of these communities, we sponsor community development projects to improve services such as healthcare and education in these rural areas.
We also aim to be environmentally-responsible by using as many recycled, reused, and natural materials and processes as we can.
We are a for-profit company with a goal to promote economic and social well-being in the world by selling Fair Trade products and promoting the cause. Providing our customers with informational product tags and point-of-sale display materials, such as posters and flyers, will help us to increase awareness about Fair Trade and social responsibility.
Thank you for visiting us. We look forward to working with you in this wonderful endeavor.
-The Handmade Expressions team
History of Handmade Expressions
Handmade Expressions was started in 2005. Manish Gupta, our founder, has worked hard to recruit a wonderful team of people who have helped him make Handmade Expressions a professional, global company. Manish is also now part of the board of directors of the Fair Trade Federation of North America, proving once more his commitment to the cause.
Before Handmade Expressions, Manish Gupta was working for a technology corporation as an operations manager in Austin, Texas. He was very successful at his job, and while it enriched his professional life, he felt there was something missing. It was during this time that he first heard of Fair Trade, and decided to make a trip to his homeland in Rajasthan, India. When Manish realized that some people were living on under $1 a day, he decided to make a difference in the world.
He started partnering up with several grass-root level NGOs & artisan cooperatives to help them create high quality, hand-crafted goods. He later promoted them in international markets as a means to provide the artisans with economic sustainability and employment. But after a while, he could not keep on doing it alone.
Eventually, he recruited two teams of professionals to help him in his endeavors. One team is based in Austin, Texas, and is comprised of: Ruchi Agrawal (product design), Mark Ostroth (IT and Operations), Juan Portillo (Marketing and Communications), Kasia Matosek Wood (Sales Manager), Matt Mogyorodi (Customer Support Manager) Tyler Pendergrass (Shipping Associate), Samantha Vicha (Design Intern), Kelly Yarbrough (Marketing Intern), and Alison Hanson (Sales Intern).
The second team is based in India, and is headed by Rashmi Dhariwal. They are in charge of artisan relations, production, quality control, and most importantly: upholding fair trade practices. Handmade Expressions quickly went from being the responsibility of one individual to being a global company.
Handmade Expressions now wholesales their products through their website www.handmadeexpressions.net. We also attend major trade shows, such as the New York International Gift Fair, the San Francisco International Gift Fair, the California Gift Show, and the National Stationery Show, among others. We have been successful in building relationships with fair trade companies, gift shops, large corporations, museums, zoos, US cooperatives, non-profit organizations and internet stores. Our products are found throughout the USA and Canada, and we are proud to be helping the fair trade industry grow.
In addition to our main business operations, Handmade Expressions also participates in fair trade forums and conferences. We educate the local community about fair trade and keep a blog with fair trade information. Finally, we support development projects involving education, health care and energy needs in India.
Manish Gupta has come a long way from having a dream to making it come true. Him and his team are always looking for new ways to help the industry and the movement. Because of his drive and dedication, he now achieved a position in the Board of Directors of the Fair Trade Federation for the year 2008-2009.