Artisan Organization: Achmadi
Country: Bali and Java
"I was born in South Sumatra in 1971 as the third of four children. My father designed pinisi boats, a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship.
"I grew up on the northern coast of East Java where I graduated from high school. I decided to move to Bali in 1990 and sold accessories and took care of surfboards on the beach to earn a living.
"In 1994, I got married, and my wife and I now have three sons and a daughter. As my children have grown up, I've encouraged them to follow their dreams.
"When I began creating accessories, a British man was ordering many of them and that was the beginning of my career here.
"Then an elderly man from abroad ordered an entire shipping container of my accessories but, after I sent them, he didn't send me the payment he promised. I suffered greatly because of this and I finally learned that he had died. Financially, I was ruined and had to work for five years just to cover my losses.
"This helped me to change my strategy, and I became like a turtle that slowly moves forward without looking back because there's so much pain in the past. Now, I'm happy, so there's no reason to look back. For me, happiness is making other people happy.
"I'm a self-taught artisan and the first one to design and create macram√© accessories and home d√©cor. I now work with 20 helpers whom I've taught, and they are like my family here.
"We use kapok fiber, known as Java cotton, a seed-hair fiber from West Java. Each piece we create requires the skilled hands of an artisan. Although we organize the work, each is an individual work of art created by fishermen who work from their homes. Thus each one is unique and no two are ever identical.
"For example, Javanese fishermen normally make nets when bad weather prevents them from going to sea. I help them take advantage of these skills to craft macram√© handbags and innovative decor accessories. The artisans who collaborate with me are delighted to show off their creativity and enjoy a new source of income. My sister in Java helps manage our projects. I was the first person here to do this kind of work and we've spent many years training the people who work with us.
"We hope everyone will help introduce our creativity around the world.""