By Kyra Gillespie
Traveller, creator and entrepreneur Carina Tomietto proves that through passion and perseverance, one woman can change the lives of many.
Combining her passion for travel with her business expertise, Carina founded Finders and Makers.
Finders and Makers is a fair trade, profit-driven social business with the goal of empowering women in small business by providing them with a sustainable, long-term source of income.
Although it is only launching to the world this week, Finders and Makers is a project that has taken about a decade of planning.
“Finders and Makers is the realisation of a dream. It’s been an ambition of mine for such a long time, to create a business that provides opportunities to give back in meaningful and sustainable ways”, Carina said.
“The desire began years ago, and grew more as I travelled to off-the-beaten-track destinations. I’m not sure if it was the poverty I could see firsthand, or the people, constantly working long hours and still struggling to make a decent living.
“The levels of inequality with regard to basic needs such as shelter, clean water, food, sanitation, healthcare and education have always filled me with a sense of frustration and injustice.”
As an educated woman who has worked for many years in non-government organisations, Carina knows too well that there are no easy solutions for the systemic disadvantages that so many women face around the world.
“The multi-layered nature of their daily routines can be extremely challenging – whether it be rearing children in poverty, struggling with literacy or the endless responsibilities around domestic duties, the farm or maybe community and cultural expectations.”
“I am so privileged and lucky to be born in Argentina and raised in Australia – and that’s what it is – luck.
“Where I was born does not make me better than anyone else.”
It was through her travels that Carina realised that she could use her own experiences to make a difference.
“I found creators on my travels that were crafting beautiful things, but had no business skills or an internet connection with which they could share their gifts with the world.
“My business brain soon kicked in, and I started thinking of ways that I could help these women reach a wider audience.
“I wanted to help women make a start as entrepreneurs; I wanted to expand their skills beyond the tourist market and get their creations out into the world.”
Carina explained that being able to make an income would change the lives of many of the women she met on her travels.
“It has been shown time and again that women make the biggest impact when they earn their own money. Women and their children, extended families and communities benefit greatly when they are at the helm of their own businesses and earning income.
“It means they are able to have some sort of control over their lives and are able to buy the things they want to without having to ask for permission.”
The idea behind Finders and Makers is to provide women with this financial independence.
“Finders and Makers is about reaching out to those women who are starting out by collaborating with them, finding opportunities for them and developing their businesses into sound income- producing ventures.”
Carina explained the meaning and inspiration behind the terms ‘Finders’ and ‘Makers’.
“The Makers are the creative, hard-working and skilled people behind the treasures you find at Finders and Makers.
“The Finders are the individuals, co-operatives, artisans or the entrepreneurs who value artisan skills and jump at the opportunity to help others. They can be anyone; they may be part of a village or community, or a traveller passing through.
“They love developing opportunities of positive social and financial impact for their Makers, their families and community.
“I encourage people to be finders; to seek out those unique hidden gems.“
“For example, I had a friend who was travelling in the most northern part of Argentina who found some beautiful Makers in a tiny remote village. She then took photos and got their details, so now I can be in touch with the creators.
“I’m going to set up a section on the site which will enable people to submit their photos, descriptions and experiences of Makers that they discover in their travels. I can then look though the applications to see if they would be the kind of creator for Finders and Makers.”
From hand-spun eri silk scarves from Eastern India, to ethically sourced horn and copper necklaces, no two pieces on Finders and Makers are alike.
“I want to avoid fast fashion. Mass produced factory goods have such a massive impact on the environment.
“By valuing the craftsmanship of each item, I’m hoping to promote longevity. Each item should be seen not as an accessory but a treasured possession.”
Appealing to the conscious consumer, every item sold on Finders and Makers is accompanied by an online blog explaining the origins of the product, the maker, where they came from and their story.
“From the market perspective, I am committed to educating consumers that we all have a choice where our purchasing decisions are concerned.
“By asking questions about how our products are made – from ethical gifts to clothing to women’s accessories – and making conscious purchases based on those answers, we move one step closer to building a stronger industry of ethical fair-trade, preventing us from further inadvertently exploiting those most vulnerable.
“I’m doing a bit of protesting for conscious consumerism here” Carina said with a laugh.
So far, the entire project has been founded, co-ordinated, organised and run by Carina alone.
“So far it has been hard work, long hours and a very steep learning curve.
I’ve met talented, kind and trusting people who have opened their homes, families and businesses to me and embraced Finders and Makers with equal enthusiasm.
I’ve painstakingly picked out the most wonderful items, all so beautifully made, and I can’t wait to share them all.”
To browse the stunning collection, read about Carina’s journey, learn about conscious consumerism or watch documentaries of the journey, head to www.findersandmakers.com.