You want to support local artisans when you buy souvenirs, but getting all that stuff home can be a pain. Baggage restrictions and the risk of breakage in transit are serious detriments to bringing back that special piece of pottery, the hand-blown glass, or that intricate wood carving. If you order things online though, it doesn’t have the same impact as buying it where you visited.
Over the years I’ve found a middle way that doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it comes close: Novica.
Novica sells quality handicrafts direct from artisans keeping their craft alive, whether in the Andes Mountains of Peru or the pueblo workshops of Mexico. They’re a benevolent middleman, marking the items up enough to cover costs, but not the 3 or 4 times you often see from retailers. The craftspeople make a living wage for their work, but you get to use a website that shows off the products beautifully. They’re a part of the National Geographic Society umbrella of companies, so I feel like I can trust them.
I’ve ordered multiple times from Novica over the years, getting exotic jewelry for my wife or picking up decorative masks to fill out our collection on a wall. I didn’t want to lug back a set of eight of those thick Mexican glasses when I moved back from there, but through these guys I can order good ones online for a price that’s not too hard to stomach. Considering all the hassles involved in international shipping and customs, their rates are a bargain.
For Latin America, follow these links to see products Novica sells from artisans working in Brazil, Mexico, the Andes region, and Central America. (Of course I’m not stopping you from loading up on unique items from India or Thailand…)
I don’t talk about specific e-commerce companies on this luxury travel blog very much, but Novica is doing good work and helping a lot of people, while at the same time helping us get some of those things we couldn’t cart back home after our trips. Happy browsing.