NOVICA: A Journey of Empowerment and Cultural Preservation

NOVICA: A Journey of Empowerment and Cultural Preservation

In a world increasingly connected by technology, the preservation of traditional crafts and the empowerment of artisans have become more important than ever. One organization that has embraced this mission with unparalleled commitment is NOVICA.

Founded in 1999 by Roberto Milk with friends and family around the world, NOVICA has transformed the lives of artisans worldwide, providing them with a global platform to showcase their unique handmade jewellery, unique gifts, ethical apparel, handblown glassware, tableware, and home decor. This article delves into the inspiring journey of NOVICA and its founders, exploring their vision, challenges, and remarkable achievements in promoting global artistry and cultural heritage.

The Vision

NOVICA’s story begins with Roberto Milk, his brother Andy, Rob’s wife Mina Olivera, and a handful of other close friends and family around the world — visionary entrepreneurs who recognized the untapped potential of artisans from developing countries. Inspired by their extensive travels and encounters with talented artisans struggling to make a sustainable living, NOVICA’s founding team envisioned a platform that would bridge the gap between these artisans and conscious consumers worldwide. They wanted to create a space where artisans could showcase their exquisite crafts while preserving their cultural heritage.

The Birth of NOVICA

In 1999, NOVICA was established as an online marketplace that would connect artisans from across the globe directly to customers. They believed that by eliminating intermediaries, artisans could receive fair compensation for their work and consumers could gain better access to authentic, handmade products with remarkable stories.

The founders meticulously curated an impressive collection of artisanal products, ranging from exquisite jewellery and intricate textiles to stunning paintings and sculptures. NOVICA’s website showcased the craftsmanship, cultural significance, and personal stories of each item, forging a deep connection between the creators and the buyers.

Overcoming Challenges

Building NOVICA presented numerous challenges. One significant hurdle was establishing trust between artisans and the online platform, especially in regions with limited internet access. NOVICA teams in regions around the world worked tirelessly to develop personal relationships with artisans, visiting their workshops, understanding their needs, and fostering mutual trust. These efforts resulted in a strong network of artisan partners, who soon recognized NOVICA as a reliable and supportive platform.

Another challenge was the logistics of shipping and delivering products from remote locations to customers around the world. NOVICA tackled this issue by forming strategic partnerships with local courier services and exploring innovative shipping solutions. These collaborations helped streamline the supply chain, ensuring timely delivery while minimizing customers’ shipping costs.

Global Impact and Empowerment

Through NOVICA, artisans from around the globe have gained access to the global market, allowing them to support their families and communities. By embracing fair trade principles, NOVICA ensures that artisans receive fair compensation for their work, empowering them economically and socially.

The impact of NOVICA extends far beyond financial empowerment. Through partnerships first with National Geographic, and subsequently with UNICEF, KIVA, International Trade Centre and Smithsonian, NOVICA’s artisans have gained significant international recognition. This exposure has elevated the status of traditional crafts, fostering cultural preservation and celebrating the rich diversity of global artistic traditions.

NOVICA’s commitment to sustainable practices is another crucial aspect of its journey. NOVICA promotes environmentally-friendly production methods, encouraging artisans to use natural and recycled materials, thereby minimizing their ecological footprint.

Conscious shopping

The journey of NOVICA and its founders is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of art, entrepreneurship, and cultural preservation. Through their vision and tireless efforts, NOVICA’s founders have created a global platform that connects artisans directly to conscious consumers, fostering empowerment, economic stability, and the celebration of diverse artistic traditions.

NOVICA’s commitment to fair trade practices has ensured that artisans receive fair compensation for their exceptional craftsmanship, helping them support their families and communities. Beyond economic empowerment, NOVICA has become a catalyst for cultural preservation. By showcasing the rich history, techniques, and stories behind each artisan’s creations, the organization has revitalized traditional crafts, ensuring their continuity for generations to come.

NOVICA has elevated the status of artisans and their works. This recognition not only enhances the artisans’ self-worth but also reinforces the value of preserving cultural heritage in a rapidly changing world.

Moreover, NOVICA’s commitment to sustainability sets an example for responsible business practices. By encouraging artisans to use eco-friendly materials and production methods, the organization minimizes its ecological footprint and contributes to a more sustainable future.

A Global Perspective

To fully understand the significance of NOVICA’s journey, it is important to explore the size and potential of the handcraft market on a global scale. Handcrafts play a vital role in cultural expression, economic development, and sustainable livelihoods for artisans around the world. The following statistics shed light on the immense scope and impact of this market:

According to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the global handcrafts market was estimated to be worth around $527 billion in 2020. Handcrafts contribute significantly to the GDP of many countries, particularly in developing regions. For example, in India, the handicraft sector accounted for 2.3% of the country’s GDP in 2019.

Employment and Livelihoods: The handicraft industry is a major source of employment, especially for rural communities and women. The International Trade Centre (ITC) estimates that over 65 million people globally are engaged in the handicrafts sector.

In many emerging nations, handcrafts provide vital income-generating opportunities for marginalized communities, helping to alleviate poverty and reduce inequality.

Cultural Preservation: Handcrafts play a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage and traditional knowledge. They reflect the unique identities, skills, and stories of different communities across the globe. UNESCO officially recognizes the importance of handcrafts in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, protecting traditional craftsmanship techniques from being lost to modernization.

Growing Demand: In recent years, there has been a notable increase in consumer demand for authentic, handmade products. Conscious consumers seek out unique, high-quality items with a personal touch and a connection to the artisans who create them. The rise of e-commerce and online marketplaces, like NOVICA, has made it easier for consumers to access a wide range of handcrafted products from around the world, contributing to the market’s growth.

These statistics highlight the vast potential of the handicrafts market, not just in terms of economic value but also in its ability to support artisans, preserve cultural heritage, and meet the evolving demands of global consumers. NOVICA’s journey in harnessing this market showcases the power of entrepreneurship and technology in bridging the gap between artisans and conscious consumers while creating a positive impact on a global scale.


As NOVICA continues to expand its reach into new regions, its impact on artisans and their communities continues to grow stronger. The organization serves as an inspiration for individuals, businesses, and governments to support and appreciate the remarkable talents and cultural traditions that enrich our global community.

In a world where mass production and commercialization dominate, NOVICA’s unwavering dedication to preserving traditional crafts and empowering artisans stands as a beacon of hope. Through their extraordinary journey, NOVICA and its founders have created a profound impact, fostering cultural exchange, social progress, and a deeper appreciation for the arts.

Ksenia Sobchak

Ksenia Sobchak, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication: Fashion Journalism, Central Saint Martins

Ksenia Sobchak enjoys blogging on fashion, style, lifestyle, love and CBD areas. Prior to becoming a blogger, Ksenia worked for a renowned fashion brand. Ksenia is a contributing author to leading fashion, lifestyle and CBD magazines and blogs. You can bump into Ksenia at her favourite cafe in South Kensington where she has written most blogs. Ksenia is a staunch advocate of CBD and its benefits to people. Ksenia is also on the panel of CBD reviewers at CBD Life Mag and Chill Hempire. Her favourite form of CBD are CBD gummies and CBD tinctures. Ksenia is a regular contributor at leading fashion, lifestyle as well as CBD magazines and blogs.

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