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The surprising reminder behind your handmade piece

You know that feeling of restlessness that keeps you up at night? The one where your mind keep comparing yourself. Judging you on what you have and what you should. That small fear that keeps you from doing something different than expectations.

These thoughts haunted me for a long time. Taking an unconventional career path, I knew I'll meet far too many who will question my choices. I remembered sharing my ideas to a friend before SukkhaCitta even started, his confused face betraying his support.

"You want to work with clothes that are handcrafted. From villages that are difficult to reach. How can you make a lot of profit if your costs are so high? How can you achieve success?"

Ah. Economies of scale. A concept I too was trained in as an economist, where the end goal is to make more so your costs as cheap as can be. This meant: get your production as mass as possible and get people to buy more.

Last weekend, I found an old drawing I made when I was a girl. 2 mountains with a peeking sun in the middle and a rice field below. A drawing that everyone who went to school in Indonesia will recognise. Yet even with this standardised concept, none of the drawings in our class ever looked the same. They all bore the uniqueness of your handprint. Something that is you and yours alone.

But overtime, we fall into a system that sets the course of life for us. We're given a standard of what a successful life is. Get a stable, high earning jobs. Get married. Get kids. Get a house. Get a car. Wait for vacations. We forget how individual our paths are, striving for perfection that we didn't define.

Batik artisan using natural dye

Women empowerment through training in East Java

So back to the original question. Why should we choose handmade things - when it's so much easier to just go to the mall and get a mass-produced t-shirt that costs as low as 3 cups of coffee?

When we buy a handmade item, we don't just buy an anonymous thing. We buy into its history, its process. The patience that goes into it as the craftswomen carefully make it with her hands. Something that is as individual as you are. Something that was not made to be part of the endless new-season-and-sale cycle - but truly for you.

A human connection, in a world so disconnected. Perhaps through this, handmade pieces provides a salvation. Its imperfections reminds us that we are all work in progress. Where our bruises and scars are actually what makes our story so perfect.