Kamibashi, a member of the Fair Trade Federation and the Museum Store Association, is dedicated to bringing handmade art from Asia to the West (and beyond)! We work directly with artists in northern Thailand to make The String Doll Gang - 200+ small characters made almost entirely of string bearing messages of good fortune to everyone. We are located in Asheville, NC and have been in business for 16 years.
A Love for Asian Arts
Kamibashi owners Kristen and Chris Daniels started Kamibashi (Japanese for "paper bridge") while teaching English to university students in Kyoto, Japan. A few months before moving to their new hometown of Asheville, NC in 2005, they read a story in an English language magazine about string dolls while they were having breakfast at a café in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Curious to see these small string creatures in person, they headed to the night market that evening, and the rest is history!
Bringing Kamibashi to Life
Fifteen years later, Kamibashi is still going strong. What started as a group of 15 string doll characters has grown to over 250, most of which are designed together with the leaders of the two string doll groups we have been working with since the very beginning. Kristen, Chris, and the Kamibashi team (meet them below!) never fail to be amazed by the creativity of their string doll artisans and their ability to make pretty much anything and anyone out of string.
Their shih tzu Pupperoo has been with them for 13 years and she’s as much a puppy as the day they brought her home in 2007. She is a steady presence in the Kamibashi office and the cuteness factor never goes away. If you are ever in Asheville, NC, please come and visit the String Doll House and get a dose of love from Pupperoo!
Meet Mandy Broderick
Mandy developed interest in international culture and caught the traveling bug during a 9-month trip around the world in her late 20's. Since then, she's made her way through 40 countries, immersing in diverse cultures, volunteering, and cultivating relationships and skills that make a positive impact.
Mandy's introduction into the world of fair trade practices began with employment at Ten Thousand Villages. For 10 years she managed the Asheville, NC retail store, educating customers on the value of fair trade products, traveling and creating connections with artisans, and witnessing the impact of fair trade relationships on artisans around the world. Through the years, Mandy developed a deeper interest in working more directly with artisans and broadening her experience in Fair Trade.
In 2015 she met Chris and Kristen at a Fair Trade Federation conference and was thrilled to learn about the fun products that the skilled artisans in Thailand produce. She began working with Kamibashi a year later and has learned so much about artisan communication, wholesale practices and importing - she loves being a part of the Kamibashi team!
After a trip to Uganda in 2016 Mandy also started Maadili Collective, a small fair trade start-up company of her own working with several cooperatives to design and craft baskets, jewelry and home decor. Forever impacted and inspired by artisan's around the world, Mandy is dedicated to the future of Fair Trade.
Meet Vickie Silva Ibarra
I've been working at Kamibashi since October 2015. I've always been very passionate and have believed in Fair Trade being a positive impact all over the world so I am very glad to be part of a small business that also holds and practices the same beliefs. I'm currently in school to be a Dental Hygienist and hope to graduate in 2022. My interests include astronomy, horror, fashion, and travelling. I love every single string doll but the two that I really relate to are Chico, because he looks like my dog Bruno, and AstroNeil/Nell. When I'm not working or busy with school, I enjoy watching horror movies and reality TV while cuddling with my dog, Bruno, and my cat, Artemis. I also really love spending time with my family, friends, and my fiancé Eric. (P.S. Marcos, below, is her brother!)
Meet Marcos Silva
I've been working at Kamibashi since April 2018. I was born in Chile and have lived in North Carolina since I was 3 years old. My interests include blacksmithing, playing video games, watching anime, cars, weight training at the gym, and Japanese culture. I've recently started taking classes for blacksmithing and I am working on setting up my own workshop at home in the near future. One of my dreams is to be able to go to Japan one day. My favorite string doll is Bigfoot - I have a special interest in mythical creatures. When I am not working, I enjoy cruising at night with friends and my wife and playing video games on my computer with my online friends. (P.S. Vickie, above, is his sister!)
Meet Sara Martin
Sara Martin has worked with Kamibashi since September 2019. Previously, she was the manager at Ten Thousand Villages Asheville and she feels so grateful to continue working in the Fair Trade world! While traveling in Guatemala, India, Bangladesh, and Ghana, Sara saw firsthand the positive impact of fair trade – empowerment for women, educational opportunities for children, and thriving, healthy communities. She is hopeful to plan another trip soon – maybe even to visit some of our artisan partners in Thailand! When she’s not working, Sara loves to read (her favorite string doll is Lola the Librarian), explore the outdoors, and snuggle with her cat, Bobby.