Through the HANDMADE IN BELGIUM authenticity label, UNIZO recognises the producers of genuine, traditional quality products. These products make a significant difference today for modern consumers. UNIZO intends to use the label to place modern, traditional craftsmen and women in the spotlight.
WHY HAVE A LABEL?
These days, we are all back on the search for authentic products again and there is renewed fascination in how a particular handicraft or technique is mastered by the people who produce them. Once again in these times of digitisation and economic crisis, handicraft is the subject of much discussion in newspapers, periodicals, fashion magazines and television programmes. The ‘Do It Yourself’ culture is exploding worldwide and the trusty term ‘Handmade’ has definitely made a comeback.
Of course, this growing interest for handmade products is both a blessing and a curse for the enterprising professional. The focus may be back on craftsmen, but at the same time it is important for them to distinguish what they do from that group of enterprising people who do it merely as a hobby. Worse still, the figures for occupations where there is a shortage simply don’t add up: too many traditional and technical trades are threatened with extinction.
HOW DO YOU BECOME HIB?
All of our HIB label-holders have to meet strict criteria:
- They must be self-employed as their main occupation in Belgium.
- They must have a business with a maximum of 20 employees.
- A substantial proportion of their range must be handmade.
- They or their employees must be responsible for the ‘creative process’ of the product, and at least 50% of that process must be by hand. (Which is where the distinction lies with purely industrial production).
- They must create a product or provide a service that has a certain practical usefulness and which distinguishes them from the artist.
- They must make a unique product that bears ‘the signature of the maker’.
If you think you are eligible for the HIB label, view the Unizo website here.
WHAT ELSE DOES UNIZO DO FOR CRAFTSMANSHIP AND TRADITIONAL SKILLS?
As an enterprise organisation, UNIZO seeks to showcase what craftsmen do and re-inject value and appreciation into traditional skills. Through the HIB label, UNIZO recognises the creators of authentic and quality handicraft products. These products make all the difference for modern consumers. Yet it is not always easy for these craftsmen and women to distinguish themselves from industrial-scale manufacturers on the one hand and hobbyists on the other. However, not everyone meets the criteria for the label, even though they are passionate about what they do and are involved in a handmade and local story.
For that reason, it is UNIZO’s aim – in addition to recognition through the label – to develop a broader platform for all businesspeople who want to be supported as tradesmen or craftswomen. With “The Creators” we intend to present a different image for craftsmanship and encourage young people to embark on professional trade-related or technical training. We also want to make the public more aware of the many “creators” who operate in our country. And most of all, our aim is to bring these creators together and provide them with support
What should you expect from us? In our series of Open Workshops we take you, as one of these makers, through a story that takes a forward-looking view at the manufacturing industry. So, what are the changes that makers and tradesmen have to go through to remain future-proof? From co-creation and passing on skills to digitising your workshop. In makers @ school, a young maker runs the class and in KnowledgeMakers, we organise network events for makers in which we discuss some of the themes with you that we – and undoubtedly you – are involved with.