Interview with Jake Orak, Founder of Ethnotek on his Decade Long Journey in Social Entrepreneurship

Jake Orak Ethnotek Founder

In episode 95 of the Disruptors for GOOD podcast, I speak with Jake Orak, founder of Ethnotek on his decade long journey in social entrepreneurship and creating jobs across multiple continents.

Check out Ethnotek’s Sourcing Roadmap: This is an article to describe Ethnotek’s internal ethical guidelines for working with artisans and is to provide suggestions to designers & business owners who are looking to practice Cultural Inclusion in their supply chain. We in no way claim to be experts in this department and are still learning, but we do have over 10 years of first-hand experience and not only does our system work well, everyone is happy and having fun in the process! Hopefully you find this helpful, enjoy!

About Ethnotek

Ethnotek’s mission is to keep culture alive by creating high-quality laptop and travel bags that feature ethically sourced handmade textiles. Your purchase sustains employment for the art of hand printing, weaving, and embroidery with partnering artisan villages in Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Ethnotek is so much more than just a bag! It’s a celebration of culture, it’s a community, it’s a global movement!

The one thing all of the Ethnotek weavers and artisans have in common is the fact that their craft is disappearing. Every year they see less and less local demand for their fabrics due to low yield and long lead times. Traditional techniques are quickly being replaced by machines and factory labor in major cities, drastically reducing the number of jobs and industry in the regions where it is needed most. By creating new demand for these traditional handcraft practices, the brand and its customers are in a sense forging an effort to keep them alive and well and in the same villages from which they came.

The last and most important part of the mission is to spread the idea that we should all celebrate each other’s differences more often. The only way culture can stay alive is if we keep it that way. Culture runs deep; from the tribes of Yunnan Province to the Subways of New York City. From the Ghats of Varanasi to the Cafes of Paris. To ensure the survival of these incredibly interesting differences we must learn about them and retell their story. This is why we see our bags as a flag. A flag that you wave which says, “I care”​.

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