Produced by small family workshops, Singing Hands products support the traditional way of living in minority villages in remote areas of China. Following the fair trade model, all profits go directly to the artisans who decide how to invest them in their community. By purchasing our products, you allow artisans to work from home. They do not have to leave anymore for faraway factories that exploit migrant workforce to make ends meet.
Singing Hands has found home in Dimen village deep in the mountains of Guizhou province in China. Dimen belongs to Kam minority. It has been virtually isolated from the rest of the world and resisted modernization for centuries. Recently, the outside world has come to Dimen full force and visible changes are happening every year.
The average yearly wage in Dimen village is $1000, well below the average for even rural China. Young and middle-aged people often seek employment in faraway factories to help ends meet. Meanwhile in the village, tourists have increasingly seduced the Kam to sell their precious heirlooms robbing them and their future generations of their heritage and identity.
By making simple artifacts with local aesthetics, Dimen artisans can generate income without losing their irreplaceable treasures. They will have no need to leave the village to make ends meet.
Moreover, the younger generation has an incentive to learn about their heritage and culture from their elders now. Wu Mengxi, our lead artisan has involved three generations of women from her family.
Rooted in local aesthetics, the products merge contemporary design with tradition. They are hand- crafted from local materials with utmost care, each piece getting an individualized treatment by the artisan as she reflects on the unique properties of the material. The fabric is handmade on a traditional wooden looms and then hand-dyed with local plants following the traditional and often time-consuming procedures that have been passed down from mother to daughter for centuries.
As a result of the weaving and dyeing process, the fabric is very strong and durable. A subtle fragrance of herbs lingers in the fibers. As part of their tradition, the artisans use local sources, and reuse and recycle materials whenever possible.
The cooperative is supported by Singing Hands Student Agency at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. The agency coordinates US sales and marketing, and oversees product development. There are currently three graphic design interns who work on product promotions, run the website and collaborate with Kam artisans on developing contemporary products with local aesthetics. They also coordinate between several graphic design and marketing classes on projects supporting the cooperative. The agency is overseen by Professor Marie Anna Lee who has worked with Kam artisans on cultural preservation projects since 2007. Learn more about the Kam Heritage Project here.
Simply purchase some of our products. You will:
Allow the Dimen artisans to make a good living while staying with their families instead of working in faraway factories under harsh working conditions.
Instead of seeing their children once a year, they will be there every day for their children.
Empower women to start and support community-based programs of their choosing in their village.
Encourage younger people in Dimen to learn about their unique heritage and learn traditional crafts.