When you choose a basket for your home, you might never stop to consider where and how it was made—or imagine that it was handcrafted an ocean away on a beautiful, small Philippine island. But the impact of that basket is far greater than you might realize: you’re not only bringing its beauty and heritage into your home, you’re also helping to provide thousands of jobs in rural, remote communities without a lot of economic opportunity. You’re empowering women to work from home and helping their families find economic stability. And you’re sustaining artisan traditions that have been handed down for generations.

Our photo + video team recently traveled to the Philippines to share the story of how our Modern Weave Storage Baskets are made:

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

Rattan, a renewable natural resource, is grown and harvested in the Mindanao islands in the southern Philippines.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

The rattan is transported by boat to the island of Bohol, where Jerome oversees orders and distributes raw materials to individual weavers all over the island of Bohol.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

The weavers, most of them women, are able to work from home while caring for their children, or they gather in groups in their villages to weave. More than 4,000 home-based artisans are employed weaving these baskets. Consistent work allows them to send their children to school, buy food and build better homes for their families.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

Basketweaving requires a high degree of skill, and it’s a tradition that’s been passed down from old to young in Filipino families for more than a century. It can take up to a day to make one basket, and one weaver crafts the entire basket.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

The rattan canes are woven together with buri palm splits. The buri tree grows in Bohol.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

An ice-pick-like tool called a tulisok is used by weavers to pierce the rattan core so they can insert and secure the buri split that binds the rattan canes together.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

Each week, the baskets are collected from the weavers by motorbike or mini jeep.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

Baskets are checked for size and quality.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

The baskets are shipped to the finishing factory on the island of Cebu by boat.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

At the finishing factory, a blow torch is used to burn off any frayed edges. Any colored finishes are added there as well, and the quality is checked again, one of seven total quality checks.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

Maribelle Cruz founded the company in 1990, and runs it with her son, John Karlo.

west elm — power of your purchase baskets

Even the houses are woven in Bohol.

The final destination: your home, where you add your story to our Modern Weave Storage Baskets.

Show us how you’re using our handcrafted baskets in your home with @mywestelm!

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