Using local materials is an increasingly important part of the Sasa Designs model. As our artisans are beaders, we support expert crafts people locally who create bone, horn and metal pieces that we can use in our designs. This gives our artisans a lot of pride to know that their work supports local businesses, and Nancy, Dinah, Megan and Anna have all enjoyed the "adventure" of tracking down the very best supplies. As you can see, designing and purchasing our components is not like a typical trip to Michael's or Beverly's Craft store! Not even a little bit...

1) The walking journey to our bone carver's place after heavy rains 2) Quality! 3) A local carver creating bone beads  and Dinah, doing quality control on our custom order with our bone carver 4) Creative re-purposing of an old saw and piece of foam and bone beads after their first cut, before polishing and sanding 6) Driving to meet one of our newest partners at their workshop 7) Megan and Ken - our newest local sourcing partner. Ken studied International Relations in university but has found his art provided a more consistent source of income. We told him that by partnering with us he is supporting international trade, and is part of a much larger community growing the artisan arena. Groups like Sasa Designs and so many others are breaking down market and trade barriers every day to bring artisan goods to the larger market. His smile got even bigger as we talked about this - what a gift to work together.

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As we grow, so does our amazing group of Brick and Mortar shops around the globe. We're sitting down with the creative people behind the brands to ask a few questions. Here's our June chat with founder, Emily Betzle from...

Believes every person has the ability to thrive and strives to do their part to see every person has that opportunity. BB partners with producers around the globe who are providing life changing opportunities, like our talented Sasa Designs artisans in Kenya.

Why do you choose to carry Sasa? We carry Sasa products because we absolutely love the heart and the spirit behind your work. We love that Sasa doesn't just believe in developing products but also believes in developing people and communities! Your comprehensive program does more than simply provide employment, but sees the potential, talent, and beauty in each one of your employees. This is truly something special, and something we want to support in every way we can!

What keeps your customers buying Sasa? Our customers love Sasa products because they are beautiful, on trend, reasonably priced, high quality, and, most importantly, they absolutely love the story behind the product, and knowing and seeing (thanks to the cards you send) the person who hand-crafted their purchase!

What impact has our partnership had? Our partnership has been so wonderful for so many reasons, but I think the most important impact is how it allows us to be deeply and positively connected to our brothers and sisters in Kenya and around the globe! One small but specific example of this is that I live in a small community in Wyoming, and last year at our holiday gift market we sold enough Sasa products to support your payroll for an entire month! Realizing this was so poignant and powerful for our volunteers and community as it clearly demonstrated how our actions can have powerful and beautiful reactions half way around the world.

Photo courtesy of Bought Beautifully.

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#CHOOSEARTISAN: Sasa Designs, John Kerry and History in the Making

Chances are, if you’re reading this – you’re already an artisan enthusiast. You believe in “voting with your dollar” and know just how important it is to know who is behind the products you buy. Unlike you, many people don’t, and the country’s pervasive focus on discounts and throw-away fashion means we have a LOT of work to do to empower artisans the world over.

On September 10, 2015 the U.S. State Department showed their commitment to supporting the work of organizations like Sasa Designs, launching the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise’s #chooseartisan campaign. How do we know they’re ready to work on this? Secretary of State John Kerry prioritized not only being at the event, but meeting representatives from artisan groups around the world – and Sasa Designs was the first group he acknowledged in his speech!

(State Department Photo, Public Domain)

Sasa Designs by the Deaf was represented by CEO, Megan MacDonald, and  filmmaker, Tim Kerns, at the event. Tim’s film “ Her Hands, Your Heart” was entered in a global multimedia competition held in conjunction with the event and….we won! After Secretary of State Kerry’s remarks specifically highlighted the work of Sasa Designs, our film was selected by an external panel of judges from 142 applicants because it gave our artisans their own voice in sharing their stories. We could not be more thankful for having succeeded in our mission to use film as a medium to empower and highlight our artisan team. The support and acknowledgement of the State Department at this global event was unexpected and humbling to say the least!

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