From Our Mission to Cultural Appropriation - Common Questions Answered

Steph, owner of Wild You, with Gilma, leader of Artesanías Arte Colibrí planning new colors for earrings in Gilma's home in Sibundoy


Shopping ethically can be tricky, especially online. If you are new to Wild You Handmade, we aim to be transparent about our work with artisans in Colombia. When I'm in the shop, these the questions I hear the most. We hope you’ll learn something new, and if another question comes up, add a comment below and I'll answer! 


Q: What’s Your Mission?

A: Wild You Handmade cultivates awareness of traditional crafts made by women & Indigenous communities in Colombia while encouraging vibrant creativity. 


Q: What’s your connection to Colombia?

A: I lived in Colombia full-time from 2017-2021, where I met my husband and taught English in Medellín. It was during the pandemic that I started to think more seriously about connecting with artisans to work with and began reaching out to different groups virtually through Instagram. Since then I’ve meet everyone in person, most multiple times! I’ve been working with the same beadwork artisans for almost 4 years now. Now home is Durham, NC, and my husband and I travel back and forth from Colombia for family and work, so our connection is still very alive! 


Q: Does a percentage of the sales go back to the artisans?

A: Our business is run on a fair trade model. When we place orders with our artisan partners, they set the prices and are paid a percentage in advance for material/labor costs, and the whole amount of the order by the time they ship it. We are still more focused on placing orders consistently with artisans as a means of support. If our business was financially stable enough to add an additional percentage on top of the already fair pay, we most certainly would! In the past we’ve given loans to artisans, Christmas bonuses, and supported elderly members of their communities with food donations. At this point in our journey it’s been a challenge to do this consistently.


Q: Am I culturally appropriating if I wear these accessories?

A: When you purchase beadwork or any other accessory with Indigenous symbolism that comes directly from that group of people themselves, you are not appropriating their culture, but rather appreciating it and helping their culture and art be visable! This is also why I always share who made each item and what symbolism it carries. The artisans I work with sell their artisan goods for a living and are so happy that you are supporting them. To help clarify, an example of cultural appropriation would be if I, a white American, started to sell my own handmade earrings with their designs, I would 100% be appropriating (taking it for my own benefit) their culture.


Q: Why are you “Wild You Handmade”?

A: Wild You is a call to express yourself creatively in the way that is most authentic to you! We don’t want to be naive and say that you are “wild” by wearing Indigenous made accessories - that’s just wrong on so many levels. But it is a wild choice to support small artisan communities instead of big fashion brands with your personal self expression. “Wild You” also nods to the Wayuu (why-you) indigenous community, the weavers who make the crocheted mochilas we sell. I’ve thought many times about a rebranding as we’ve grown, but for now the name is staying.



I’m always so grateful when these questions come up because it shows that you are conscious about who you support and where you spend your money. Thank you very much for your mindfullness.

Whether you just found us or have been along for a while, thank you for supporting Women & Indigenous Artisans in Colombia!

With Gratitude,


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