Slider Resume




The fair trade movement has informed much of how I integrate the arts with specific economic development goals.  The idea that artists (artisans, crafters, producers…) deserve a fair wage for their time, labor and talent seems like it should be a given.  Yet, not only do sweat shops and slave conditions thrive in developing countries, they also abound in the first world.  And, indie designers and artists face the same fate as the public often expects their labor for almost no compensation. 

These fair trade ideals embody the marriage of my interests: crafts or art that promote economic development through their production and their successful entry into the market.  In my younger years, my entrepreneurial and creative spirit followed the route of learning the ropes of selling my work.  I went through several different phases of making different craft lines, approaching consignment shops, and participating in craft festivals.  This started at an early age (only 15 years old!) with selling painted t-shirts in artisan markets in Brazil.  I struggled to find my niche where I could combine both my interest in social and economic justice with my love for crafts and the people who make them.

I pursued the brick and mortar route, operating several different handmade gift shops/galleries in Chicago.  In 1988, I was hired to run an artisan’s co-op there and found my place and my language.  That led to more than twenty years of various retail experiences, mostly in the context of working with small importers who had access to crafts from their home countries.  In 2005, I moved to Kentucky and focused primarily on building my online business and on art commissions that I received.  By then, I had learned a great deal about selling online and continued to teach myself new skills, especially around social media.  In 2008, peers began to ask for assistance with their businesses and I found that I really enjoyed using my experience to help others improve their online presence and performance.  In January of 2010, I launched TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List, an organization that formalized many of my experiences into a cohesive platform for textile businesses and fiber artists.

My resumé details some of the concrete work experiences I have accumulated over the years and this website will hopefully illustrate some of that.  My long-term goal is to increase my role as a technical assistant with textile related businesses, especially those which have a social mission.  I can give feedback on the overall presentation of a business (products, logo, website, and social media) and then target problem areas that may need help.  I can help set up the structures people need in order to succeed.


RAYELA ART is Rachel Biel, wearing four hats: 



Co-owner, Dara Tribal Village, with Abdul Wardak of Afghan Tribal Arts, direct importer from Afghanistan. Responsibilities included finding suitable retail space, negotiating lease,  setting up inventory system, purchasing and pricing product, planning events, display and space design.






Lived in Brazil for first 18 years of life (1962-1980). Parents were missionaries with the American Lutheran Church and served in German settlements. Know Brazil extremely well. See my blog on our time there, Biels in Brazil.

Other: Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Jamaica, Venezuela, Germany, Sweden, Spain, France, and Portugal.


Computer skills (Word, Excel, Windows Movie Maker, Social Media, decent photo editing, and some web design skills), understanding of break-even analysis,  good basic accounting skills, and writing.

Strengths lie in developing concepts, planning strategies in how to make those concepts reality, delegating responsibility, working with flexibility and having a good sense of humor.