The articles you care most about are often the hardest to write. This may be the hardest one I’ve ever written.
My mother, Rosa Milk, passed away last month after a long battle with cancer. She was a guiding light for my brother, Andy, and me… and she lit the initial spark behind Novica.
One of her passions was to visit artisan markets wherever we traveled. Her home, where I’m currently writing, is filled to the brim with artisan goods the world over, from her travels and from Novica.
She met my father when he was in the Peace Corps in Peru – they were both teachers and immediately hit it off. I remember during the summers we would all pile into our navy-blue VW Vanagon and drive south into Mexico for the most memorable, low-budget, high-adrenaline family adventures. My cousins would join, both of my grandmothers, and our childhood friend Charles Hachtmann, who later became a Novica cofounder. Schedules were formed on the fly, and my dad would weigh everyone’s opinions on our next location, but my mom’s always won out, of course.
One thing was a constant – my mother had a love for artisan crafts. We’d venture to off-the-beaten-path markets, so remote that many of the sellers were the artisans themselves. Andy and I would stand by her side, seeking out the latest and greatest handmade items for our collection – our room was full of Star Wars figures, Legos, hot wheels, carved coconut pirate heads, mariachi frogs, Amazonian blowguns, spears and shields, onyx backgammon sets, Inca bronze daggers, furry alpaca figurines and much more.
My mom didn’t just have a love for artisan crafts…she had a love for artisans.
She wouldn’t just buy an item. She’d engage in a song-and-dance about the item, the maker, the inspiration. By the end, she’d be hugging the seller as they bagged her purchase as if they were old friends.
It is this vision of the artisan as an equal partner (not a charity case, but talented brothers and sisters with something beautiful to share with the world) — an interest in artisan stories and the soul behind the object — that truly sparked Novica.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks to Rosita Larnia Milk, a wonderful human being, an amazing mother, a beautiful soul that touched so many. In her honor, we celebrate those things in life that have purpose — important memories, loved ones, our origins, and meaningful traditions.
We’d also like to celebrate YOU, our beloved customers, who have helped send over $100M directly to artisans around the world.
In these difficult times, let us search for those things that elicit our gratitude. In our case, we know we have another angel looking over us and guiding Novica.