David Atlas was in his early-twenties. Fresh out of engineering school, he took off backpacking with friends through Southeast Asia. After several months of travel, David discovered beautiful handmade, artisanal products characteristic of the open-air markets found in Vietnam and Thailand. Moved by the personal connection he felt when meeting the artisans, David began his business idea of importing fair trade products to support small producers.
Perusing the open-air markets, David would bring home handmade gifts as souvenirs. The immediate popularity of these products with family and friends moved David to seek out the people who made them. David located remote artisan groups who crafted the scarves and paper ornaments and built relationships with them for nearly 10 years.
Since then, David has developed deep relationships with over a dozen small artisan groups from Thailand to Vietnam. Recently, Marquet has expanded from selling scarves and ornaments to include an immensely popular jewelry line from the Akha Tribe. Marquet jewelry and ornaments are sold nationwide, including in Whole Foods Markets across the world.
What has stuck with David over the years is the immense feeling of welcoming he felt when traveling Southeast Asia. Once, he and his friends got lost looking for a remote fishing spot described in Lonely Planet. Though they never found what they were looking for, the friends were instead invited to live like family with a small village of about 400 people. From eating snake with the village men to playing soccer with teens, the pair felt as if they had arrived home.
For David, running a company like Marquet is his way of giving back to these small villages and artisans. Through this partnership, families living in remote villages are able to remain together and support their livelihood through the creation of beautifully handcrafted products sold around the world. David cherishes the artisan relationships and knowing that Marquet improves the lives of hundreds of artisans in Southeast Asia.