- '' In the past, baskets were cheap. Now that they have a brand, they are all more expensive.''
This phrase hit us for a second.
It was said by a fan that we had the pleasure of meeting on a visit to our Atelier & Showroom based in the Center of Portugal. We couldn’t let it go without knowing why our baskets don’t match the values of yesteryear, especially for making it a point to buy us:
- It's not because they have a brand. It is because it is unsustainable to continue to work along the lines that used to be, and still are, today. Since I was 5 years old, I work in the Portuguese reed basketry without ever having received a penny. My family has been making baskets since 1952, the same baskets that you could buy at the fair, those ''accessible''.
My village, Cós - Alcobaça, was the village of Portugal Baskets. Each house, each loom to make baskets. The baskets of Alcobaça traveled all over the country, and many of them were woven by my family, by me until I was 17 and having left home for a better life. Who was making money then? The so-called '' merchants '' who sold them in markets, but 80% of them never wove a single basket, and paid the craftsman a minimum price to sell them at fairs with profit margins above 100%, so imagine who worked for hours in that basket, what they received - if they were lucky enough to receive it.
Many Arts and Crafts have been lost over the years, as they survive not only from the hands of those who make them, but also from the hands of those who appreciate them. Why are traditional baskets sold cheap?
They are made by artisans already of advanced age, as a complement to the reform and helps to put anything else on the table, although it is never enough to make that life. Others try to fight for the dignity of this art, to show the true value behind a handicraft piece.
When I decided to create the Victoria Handmade brand, it wasn't the brand that gave value to our baskets: it was dignity.
Dignity in working conditions and methods. Salary dignity. Environmental dignity. And much more.
This art of Portuguese reed basketry was on the verge of extinction 5 years ago. My sister and I are the youngest artisans working in this area and the FIRST to receive a salary with all the rights of the worker ensured. At 48 years old when my sister Carla found herself unemployed and I had the courage to invite her to fight beside me, in the village where we lived all childhood and where she still remained, the artisans, who worked with us side by side, said '' - oh dear, what a pity, not having life assured, not knowing tomorrow despite all the work. '' And he never forgets us, his eyes wide, but the smile on his face, when my sister replies that he would work with dignity and receive with dignity, like a lawyer, a teacher, a supermarket clerk, whoever he was.
It is for this reason, for the nostalgia and memories that we live in each basket, that the Victoria Handmade Pieces reveal the highest levels of ethics. Know that buying from Victoria Handmade is buying directly from the ARTISAN, and that in each basket made by hand for you, we preserve and multiply a story: yours, and ours.