TAYP’s Handicraft Export Initiative: path to profitability and sustainability


The inaugural participation of the selected artisans in Artisan Resource Gift Fair 2013 (ARGF) in New York City caught the attention of several buyers who placed repeated orders.  The TAYP team and its partners were convinced that Tunisian handicrafts had great potential to compete in the US market.

In January 2014, Office National de l’Artisanat (ONA) started planning with TAYP for the second consecutive Tunisian participation in the Artisan Resource Gift Fair.  The fair took place in New York City from January 30 to February 4, 2014.

The Tunisian delegation of February 2014 at ARGF was fully sponsored by ONA’s budget. Eight artisans were selected and five of those were returning artisans from the first ARGF. TAYP’s provided logistic support and assistance with communications between the different parties involved. This included travel, shipping, collection and storage of products as well as lodging for the artisans. TAYP also managed the booth design; setup and breakdown. An ONA contracted consultant company provided some help as well.

The first Tunisian participation during the 2013 ARGF left a positive impression with buyers and event management team. TAYP representatives initiated the first contact with the event managers (GLM) in early 2013 and continued to nurture the relationship to capitalize on any opportunity the show management offers. ONA requested a 600 sq. ft. booth for February 2014 show. During the setup of the booth, TAYP representative discussed the options of increasing the Tunisian Pavilion by an additional 100 sq. ft. (worth over $6,000) at no cost. Thanks to the positive relationship Mr. Mnif and TAYP had with the GLM event representative, the Tunisian artisans benefited from an addition section to display their products.

The Tunisian Pavilion was, for the second consecutive time, one of the most attractive and welcoming areas of the show. It was the first destination of most buyers due to its well-displayed items, colorful products and welcoming artisans.  After consulting with Ms. Allison Garafalo, Artisan Resource Sales Manager, TAYP team and ONA co-sponsored the opening reception of the event.  Tunisian sweets and mint tea were served at the Tunisian booth; guests enjoyed the Tunisian hospitality and interacted with artisans to learn more about their products, culture and heritage.

TAYP’s marketing for the fair was comprehensive.  An advertisement was placed in the official NY NOW Preshow Planner. Three pages of the Artisan Resource 2014 booklet were dedicated to highlight the Tunisian Pavilion and the eight participating artisans. One of the participating artisans, Caravan Serail, was also featured in the Artisan Resource website throughout the show.  The Preshow Planner was mailed to 80,000 buyers internationally and was released approximately few weeks prior to the show.

As of today, services and benefits provided by TAYP’s Handcraft Export Initiative project sponsored by the US Embassy in Tunisia (ESF), directly impacted over 30 artisans, and worked its way through the supply chain and impacted the lives of over 500 artisans and individuals. The project also impacted more than 17 different Tunisian regions.


Anis Mnif

Nashville, TE, USA