Things and Stories is a business that offers high quality Timorese made handicrafts to tourists, local residents, corporate and institutional clients. The owner of the business, Ms. Maite Monnereau, has been engaged in small scale handicraft business since 2008 and started Things and Stories as an enterprise in 2015 to expand to large scale sales of high quality Timorese handicrafts in domestic and export markets. Currently Things and Stories works with a network of 56 producer groups in 9 districts. It has a sales outlets in Hotel Timor, Timor Plaza in Dili and a recently opened store at Dili airport.
In Timor-Leste’s tourism sector, high-quality, hand-made products can play a key role in generating income for local artisans. All around Timor-Leste small-scale artisan groups, predominantly female, produce tais fabrics, embroidered products, toys , woodcarvings, pottery and traditional jewellery for visitors and buyers. However, only some of these artisans end up selling their products through a few NGOs or private companies based in Dili. Almost all the wholesale buyers of the handicraft products are content with just procuring products from the artisans and do not provide any embedded service (product design idea, manufacturing tips etc.) to their suppliers. As a result, only a handful of artisan groups are capable of producing high quality handicraft products with the rest producing very basic low quality products with limited appeal in the high-end domestic and international market.
Given this situation, Things and Stories aims to position itself as a supplier of premium quality Timorese handicrafts through working closely with the artisan groups and actively marketing its products in the domestic and international markets. MDF support Things & Stories in establishing a craft workshop for the suppliers, procuring machinery for them to use, setting up order placement and communication systems for the artisans in selected districts, branding different artisan groups and their products and, finally, conducting intensive marketing campaigns (nationally and internationally) to attract more customers.