The Skillful Artisan

Connecting crafts, cultures and markets to empower artisans

  • A lesson in the Skillful Artisan curriculum
  • Students working together during the co-creation workshop
  • Women working on new techniques
  • Co-creation in Pakistan


The craftswomen in Pakistan are highly skilled in their traditional crafts, but often lack entrepreneurial and design innovation skills. Butterfly Works was asked to develop a training that improves the income of 1600 craftswomen in rural Pakistan.

Skillful Artisan

The Skillful Artisan training consists of 12 video lessons covering both theory and practice. Lessons on design innovation combine traditional crafts with a modern feel. In the lessons on entrepreneurship, artisans learn about price negotiations and market linkages. To make the course easily accessible for home-based artisans in remote areas, master trainers travel from village to village. They teach one lesson a week and give practical assignments for the rest of the week. To tell the artisan story and give the women a head start in finding new markets, Butterfly Works and art school IVS created a new brand; “Kahani – crafts with a story”. This high end label of interior products shows the women’s strong crafts skills and the region’s great crafts heritage. It is sold through the brand’s store in Karachi.

Project development

Through a co-creation process with relevant stakeholders we explored artisans’ wishes and discussed different perspectives. This way we created a curriculum that prepares for more assignments and an increased income. By including the trainers and artisans, we also discovered the obstacles in traditional training methods.


Sindh region, Pakistan (2014)


Oxfam Novib Pakistan, IVS (Indusvalley School Of Arts and Architecture), local craft curriculum experts, IRC (Indus Resource Center), RDF (Research and Development Foundation), local consultants, local crafts women association, local designers.

Results so far

The trainers have so far trained two groups of in total 960 artisans. At the end of February 2015, a selection of craftswomen participated in the annual national crafts fair where they demonstrated their skills and products. By September 2015 we plan to have trained 1600 women and to have constructed a sales network to facilitate their work. For the Kahani brand, a sample book is in the making. We are also proud to see that the store in Karachi is attracting fashion producers and managers from warehouses. The first orders have already been placed – also from international customers!



Do you want to know more about how we use our method in the projects? Download our white paper here.

If you are a company, foundation, design studio or working in the field of education and women’s rights and you think that there are groups of women around you whom might benefit from the Skillful Artisan, please contact us.