As we traveled through Central America last year, it was Guatemala that made us want a home the most. Not because we want stability, security or to settle down (yet!). Rather, the markets and galleries in places like Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan and Antigua, Guatemala, had such amazing, affordable art and handicrafts and we wanted to buy it all! But what to do with it? Those paintings wouldn’t fit in our backpacks and we have no fixed address to ship it all to.
At times, we dream about how, in the future when we do settle down, we’ll go on shopping trips back to all of these places and pick up all the handicrafts that we couldn’t buy before, but that might not be entirely realistic. Luckily, we’ve recently discovered Novica, and can get these great products shipped to us, instead.
What is Novica?
Novica.com works together in association with National Geographic to connect local artists from all over the world to a global consumer audience by offering an online platform to sell their handmade jewelry, handicrafts, clothes, paintings and other home decor items. Normally limited to a physical storefront in their own country, Novica gives artists without quality internet access the opportunity to reach interested customers around the world. This essentially levels the playing field to allow these artists to reap the same benefits of eCommerce that sellers with internet access have been enjoying and exploiting for over a decade.
Best of all, no third party is skimming anything off the top here. Artists do not pay to list their goods on Novica and retain full power to raise or lower prices on the site, or remove their items all together.
Shopping on Novica.com
The website is very easy to navigate. Shoppers interested in making purchasing according to region can search by country or depending on the time of the year, you can also head straight to seasonal ideas or accessories, such as Thanksgiving, Holiday Décor, or, for those in Europe and North America now, Fall specific items like cozy winter sweaters and scarves made from Peruvian Alpaca wool to keep you warm at this time of year.
Another option allows you to search by price – under $50, $50 – $100, or more, function that is especially good when looking for Christmas or birthday gifts. There is even a ‘Gifts’ category,with gifts for her, him, corporate, animal loves, garden lovers, mom, dad or simply gifts available for fast shipping if you need to get something to someone in a hurry. Buying art or jewelry can be especially difficult for friends, so an easier option might just be to get someone a Novica gift certificate and then let them choose for themselves.
We became aware of Novica, in fact, when a friend sent us gift certificate recently, and so we did some shopping while in Chicago. We browsed for hours through the incredible amount of artisan products in the main categories:
- Home Decor
- Jewelry & Apparel
Sub-categories ranges from bracelets, earrings, necklaces, sculptures & masks, musical instruments, tapestries & mirrors, games, handbags, vases and furniture to tableware & entertaining. Each item on the site features the artist and their story, and you can even choose to search for items crafted by certain artist if you decide you want to support their business or really fall for their style of artistry.
What we ordered from Novica
After browsing through all the options and reading about the fascinating people behind the products, I decided to order Jess some earrings as they are light and easy to travel with, finally deciding on a pair of silver earrings from a female artist in Thailand, in anticipation of our upcoming trip through South East Asia.
Less than a week later, the earrings arrived all the way from Thailand, in beautiful little box which also contained a message about the earrings and a hand-written Thank You card from the artist Khun Boom, a young jewellery designer from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. This makes the gift even more personal, and this way Jess also learned all about Khun Boom and her work.
I also ordered us a wooden antique-style jewelry box that I found in the Mexico category. The pinewood box was hand-painted with Frida Kahlo paintings, the iconic Mexican artist who we both adore. After having visited Frida’s Casa Azul in Coyoacan last year, I thought this box would be something that would always remind us of that day at Frida’s house and at the same time look great on our bedroom dresser (once we find a place to make our home, that is!).
The package from Mexico arrived after 10 days and also held some info on the artist Ana Maria Gonzalez, who specializes in making decorative boxes with an antique finish, many of which depict Frida Kahlo. The box was nicely wrapped as a gift and is of superior quality. As with the earrings, the enclosed card also held a note from the artist:
We just love the service that Novica.com provides both to local artists and conscious shoppers around the world. The service and speed of delivery couldn’t have been better and we will definitely be using the site in the future. If you’re looking for original Christmas gifts with an actual personal connection, or are simply interested in taking part in making sure your purchases give artisans world-wide a fair working wage, we would recommend trying out Novica.