Barny Carter and Uscha van Banning have developed a business that not only produces beautiful handmade leather journals, they also help small communities sustain themselves. Barny shares the story about the business that makes a difference.
The Story of Uscha – Handcrafts that make a difference!
Two years ago, Uscha’s father Herman introduced us to the idea of possibly selling handmade leather books from India, here in Australia. He’d been selling them at his market stall in Amsterdam for around twelve years and was experiencing the continually positive effect their sale had on the community in India where they are made.
The books themselves are made from handmade recycled cotton paper and the leather is sourced as a by-product of existing industry. The paper is made by what’s called the ‘paper unit’ – an NGO program that runs schools for local village children. The schools represent an opportunity for the village children to learn and play in a safe and positive environment. When we first visited the school two years ago we were blown away by the effect that an educational institution can have on a child. My memories of school were not that special, but these kids eyes shone so brightly and their laughs were so loud that it was certain that a difference was being made. One for the better.
They were also being educated in a way that was different to local government schools.
They were being taught of the importance of working together in their community, and with their environment to insure longevity. Yes, there was a base education of language, grammar and mathematics but the children were guided to be creative, to work together, and therefore achieve together. It simply wasn’t about being the best as an individual but more about working together with a common goal. A quality of life, an awareness of each other and our environment – that is our life source.
It made us realise that these simple values were being lost in the modern western world through the materialistic need and greed of people. The need to be richer, have a bigger house or an important career being the means by which you define your value as a human being. Giving and sharing simply become second to taking and wanting.
For me, personally this was a life changing experience. I went from working with corporate businesses through on line media to market life where I fell in love with people again and the enjoyment found in meeting new faces, sharing experiences and living a simpler life. I look forward to going to work and love the fact that I get to share it with real people not just through a monitor – having a tactile connection with the world again.
Today we have more than just books at our stall. Through our travels we’ve found other handmade objects that we strongly connect to and see the difference these items make for both their makers and buyers. We too are also working with our hands to create handmade stone frames that capture the beauty in simplicity that we often see on our travels, transporting the images we photograph in a unique printing process.
We’ve also just built a new stall in one of the shipping containers in M shed. We built this ourselves from recycled materials, including broken pallets and other objects collected from the Market. We would love to meet you, so please, come and say hi!
Barny and Uscha
Uscha is open in String Bean Alley:
Friday 9am – 2pm
Saturday 9am – 3pm
Sunday 9am – 4pm
Uscha also trades during the Night Market Season:
Winter Night Market – Wednesday nights in August
Summer Night Market – Wednesday nights – November – February