Traditionally, handmade goods from developing nations go through a lengthy process before reaching primary retail markets. Artisans in rural villages typically work with local intermediaries who then sell to national-level ones. Customers purchase the goods at retail stores, often at more than ten times the original price. Usually very little of the profits go to their creators, and as a result, they are faced with dire economic conditions. In many cases they have two options: either they abandon their labour-intensive traditions to suit local tastes and purchasing power, or they enter new forms of labour. Among artistically talented younger men and women, few see a possibility of making a living from their work. In order to respond to this situation, Roberto Milk, a Peruvian-American, and Armenia Nercessian de Oliveira, a Brazilian, co-founded Novica. Novica works directly with artists and artisans to reduce the effect of the two most significant factors that prevent them from earning a living from their craft and keeping traditions alive: geographic distance and multiple layers of middlemen.
Novica has opened global markets to artists, who can set their own prices, often earning 10-50% more than the going local rate. In addition, consumers benefit by paying below-market prices. Novica works with a growing pool of over 3,000 artisan groups representing over 15,000 artisans and their families. It taps into the growing market for handcrafted home decor, (gifts and apparel that exceed US$ 10 billion in the US alone) by taking advantage of two effects of globalization: one is a social phenomenon, wherein more consumers care about how (under what conditions) their items are made, as wellas who made them; and the second is the increasing speed and potential of the Internet. Novica’s website not only promotes handmade goods but also the people who created them. One of the major goals of Novica is to communicate the personal stories of artisans on the website. This allows artists to see the actual price their work is being sold for and receive valuable feedback from buyers.