In a timeless rural village, about a three-hour hike from Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, Thi Hien sketches whimsical winter skies on mugs that will soon be filled with steaming coffee in kitchens around the U.S.
Surrounded by the warm breezes of her workshop fan, she delves deep into her imagination to envision the landscape of a winter night sky.
Outside, it’s hot and humid.
She’s more likely to experience the reality of tropical trees blowing in the rain than snowfall drifting under winter stars.
But Thi Hien is delighted for this opportunity to express her creativity.
Growing up in a traditional handicraft village, Thi Hien always dreamed of becoming a professional artist.
Out of over 3,000 handicraft villages in Vietnam, her village is one of only 400 remaining true to the ancient practices of their ancestors.*
They’re proud of their traditional heritage and committed to preserving the integrity of their art.
Village elders respect aspiring artists and eagerly share their secrets from over seven centuries of Artisan history with the next generation.
But… as a female Artisan in a traditionally gender-biased culture, Thi Hien faced continual challenges as she followed her dreams.
After extensive training…
… from the most basic skills of how to hold a pen to more complicated skills like how to shape and scale designs…
… she began breaking cultural stereotypes by contributing significantly to her family’s finances.
Power Over Poverty
Economic losses and limited income opportunities once burdened her family with debt that her husband struggled to repay, alone. Now, Thi Hien’s income has allowed her to help her husband begin to pay off these debts.
Each whimsical winter mug she sketches is filled with her family’s hopes for the day they will finally be debt free. Every time a woman in the U.S. fills her mug from our holiday Starlight Set with coffee, Thi Hien’s dream of a debt-free life draws closer to becoming her reality.
Made by Artisans in Vietnam and Guatemala
Our Starlight Set is the perfect blend of modern style and ancient Artisan traditions from Vietnam and Guatemala. Your steaming mug of holiday comfort begins in a small crafting village in the Vietnamese countryside, where women are overcoming centuries of discrimination and poverty, as fair-trade Artisans.
Handcrafted Mug from Vietnam
On a potter’s wheel, Artisans press lumps of clay into molds to create the desired size and shape for each mug. The clay mugs are then thoroughly baked in a kiln for eight hours. Once cooled, the inside of each mug is coated with a transparent glaze. Each dried mug is polished and cleaned to prepare for the beeswax Artisans who paint whimsical stars and dots with beeswax before the mugs are dipped into a final coat of blue glaze.
Once the glaze has dried, the beeswax stars and dots are scraped away and the mugs are returned to the kiln to bake another 15 hours. Inside the kiln, the sky-blue glaze darkens into the deep-blue shade of a winter night sky. From start to finish, each mug takes a group of Artisans several days to complete. When cooled, these whimsical mugs are ready for a fresh pot of Mayan Blend Coffee from our Artisan partners in Guatemala!
Coffee from Guatemala
coffee is more than a seasonal indulgence.
60% of Guatemala’s families live below poverty level and over.
70% of Guatemala’s families depend on the coffee industry for income.
Our Artisan partners in Guatemala are committed to continuing the ethical coffee growing and harvesting practices they’ve maintained for over a century. While upholding high quality standards for their coffee, they also continually strive to improve the quality of life for their workers – through safe working conditions, fair wages, and medical care.