Charllotte Kwon, owner of Maiwa Handprints and founder of the Maiwa Foundation, will be our keynote speaker at the ANWG 2017 conference.
Charllotte exemplifies our conference theme Treadle Lightly. She has an abiding interest in natural dyes and this focus has informed her path from surface design artisan to businesswoman to the creation of the Maiwa Foundation to an honorary doctorate.
She started travelling through Indonesia, Thailand, China and Japan researching the history and uses of natural dyes. Many of the recipes she learned had never been written down and were being lost as easier-to-use chemical dyes became available. Charllotte could not bear to see this happen and began to look for markets for naturally dyed products.
Charllotte established her business, Maiwa Handprints Ltd., in the late 1980’s on Granville Island, Vancouver. She worked to open up a market in Vancouver for handmade crafts, created with traditional skills and of a high quality workmanship. Her goal in her business was and is to partner with the artisans, using the growing commercial interest of western markets to support traditional skills and knowledge because it is only in this way that they will survive.
In 1997, Charllotte, through Maiwa Handprints Ltd., established the Maiwa Foundation. It is a private trust which has as its purpose “the reduction of poverty in rural villages by promoting the economic self-sufficiency of the artisans living in such villages”. The Maiwa Foundation works to save existing skills and knowledge and to help artisans regain former skills. Maiwa has become a repository of much knowledge about natural dyeing, weaving, embroidery, and block printing which it works to share widely.
In June 2014, Charllotte received an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of the Fraser Valley for her work empowering artisans from developing nations and for battling poverty by providing a market for their traditional crafts.
Charllotte works with groups and communities from Turkey to Morocco to India. She places great value on the importance of traditional skills and knowledge and works to create partnerships with artisans in many countries to preserve this knowledge.
Please visit the Maiwa Website to learn more about this remarkable business.
For those who like something to listen to while weaving or spinning, the Maiwa Podcasts are wonderful.
All registered attendees of the 2017 ANWG conference will have the opportunity to hear Charllotte speak.
Post by Christine Purse. Photos used with permission of Maiwa.