Interview with Monica Moisin
Founder @ Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative

Monica creates legal infrastructure at the intersection of law, fashion and traditional knowledge for sustainable collaborations between artisans and designers. She focuses extensively on creating a framework for the survival of traditional cultural expressions and building bridges between traditional craftsmanship and the fashion industry. Author of various legal articles in both Romanian and foreign publications Monica has pioneered the terms ‘cultural intellectual property law’ and ‘traditional identity design’ within Romanian and international academia and has defined the “benefit sharing business model” for collaborations between the fashion and product design industry and traditional creative communities. ​ Monica acts as a cultural mediator between the fashion industry and artisans in promoting luxury craftsmanship as part of the contemporary fashion supply chain.
Tell us more about your #onevoiceforcraft project and travels. What have you learned so far, and how do you plan on putting these things into action?
As the 60 days of One Voice for Craft, Chapter One: India are coming to an end, I must say it's been the most amazing experience of my life so far. I've started on this journey with the aim of interviewing artisans, see the position of the artisan as a rightholder in India, and on this journey I met more than I expected. So we have 10 interviews that we have conducted, 10 interviews so far, and I met with over 50 individuals with relevant opinions in the field of craft in India. Also spent a few days in Delhi, conducted a workshop on cultural entrepreneurship and co-creating business models with artisans and had a lecture and a panel discussion on cultural sustainability in India, and the relevance of cultural intellectual property rights for India. So it's been a journey full of lessons - more of it will be published in a whitepaper in the following two months, which will be available on our website cultualintellectualproperty.com. You can meet all the artisans then, and see their stories, their personal stories. A lot of projects will be born out of this journey and also collaborations between the members of our initiative who are based in India but also artisans that we met in the process. More about that soon to come.
What's next for you and your initiative?
For the initiative, the development of the Cultural Sustainability Seal. It will be an authentication and certification mechanism, that ensures that certain products that we develop in collaboration with our members are culturally sustainable. It comes together with a blockchain-based technology and labels that will be attached to the product in different mediums - embroidery, traditional embroidery, carving block printed, different crafts around the globe - will be used depending on the products that are developed. For me personally, the next step is to get back to Sweden and get back to my fashion law work.
You have created your own field of law, started your own business, and pioneered a movement. How has this taken shape over the last few years, and what challenges have arisen?
Now talking about challenges... there are many. First of all, peoples skepticism: there is a high degree of skepticism about how can we actually protect and help artisans and traditional creative communities. So there's a lot of convincing work. Secondly, financial support: people today want immediate results, they always ask about numbers, how this is gonna be economically beneficial. We need to think on a large scale, we need to be visionary in this kind of work, and it's difficult to reach people. And a third: this is a systemic change that needs to take place, and people are used to taking baby steps. So working on those baby steps and showing, giving people the possibility to take the baby steps together with us, this is also a challenge.
Cultural appropriation and design theft are large problems in the fashion sector. How does the cultural trademark aim to solve these problems?
Cultural trademarks will help traditional creative communities and artisan communities around the world to communicate to the modern customer the origin and the cultural information related to the garments, the products, that they create, similarly to how a trademark works nowadays for fashion brands. So every time you buy a Chanel, Dior or, I don't know, Armani product, you know where it comes from. The power of labelling a product with a brand is a means of communicating to the customer the value, the source, the authenticity - the same way the cultural trademark will be applied on an artisan-developed products.
Hi, Mona! Tell us the story of the founding of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative. What does it take to start a business in a previously undefined sector?
First of all, hello everyone! I'm here in India at the moment with the first chapter of our One Voice for Craft campaign, a campaign that advocates for the rights of artisans as custodians and transmitters of traditional knowledge. The story of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative starts around 2015 in Romania, from the passion for traditional Romanian traditional cultural expression. In 2018, after having delivered a TEDx Talk in Munich, Germany, called Cultural Fashion: Transform the Fashion Industry From Villain to Hero, I decided to create an online platform that advocates for the rights of artisans and that brings together fashion projects, fashion businesses, and cultural entrepreneurship projects that work with artisans, for artisans, and integrate traditional craftsmanship in contemporary supply chains. Providing such a legal service is a new service in the legal field, and providing cultural sustainability consultancy is also a new form of service - a new service. It's it's not an easy task of course: you have to create awareness, you have to create the market, you have to reach to the right people and create the network before setting up the business itself.