How Carrying Silk 1500 Miles Changed Our Lives

August 19, 2014

How Carrying Silk 1500 Miles Changed Our Lives

Travel is always such a whirlwind, isn’t it? There’s this manic scramble before you leave, packing, repacking and starting all over again, making sure you’ve got your cables and snacks and clothes and maps and lists and…. it just goes on and on.

 

But that’s the magic of it all, the unpredictable, unforeseeable beauty of gathering yourselves up  and just going. We’ve been doing it a while now, and that is the only constant.

On our most recent trip, hauling ourselves all the way to the UK, and then bustling down into Nepal, we had some time to reflect on the process our materials and products have gone through as we grew.

Here we’d like to share some musings on that growth from a little while ago, when we rebranded from Fair Trade by HOPE to Global Groove Life:

Back in '98, after our first pop-up store, we literally travelled the length of India for interesting products to bring back to our customers in California for the  following holiday season. Once we reached southern India, Mysore to be exact, we found ourselves not only high on the scent of sandalwood but intoxicated by the array of fine silks available.

 

Without a clue what we would do with it, we purchased yards of raw silk in just about every color imaginable.

This silk travelled on our backs via a third-class sleeper car from the southern tip of India back up and through the holy city of Varanasi. It travelled overland through a massive storm and leaky bus for three days from Varanasi to Kathmandu - over 1500 miles in total. And that's where we learned, after such a crazy journey, that Kathmandu was famous for embroidery!

 


Remember there was no Wifi in those days, Internet in that part of the world existed only in major cities and you could expect to wait up to three hours for your turn on the one computer. So we had no idea what we could expect to find anywhere in our travels.

So there we were with a pack full of silk surrounded on every street corner by the buzz of embroidering, and at Christmas 1998 we offered the most amazing silk cushion covers with intricate and  colorful celtic knots that you have ever seen!

And now, in full knowledge of what Kathmandu has to offer, we carried fabric from afar once again. It didn't experience the authentic traveler's rite-of-passage journey as did our first go, but it did travel, albeit by jet... 

From Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Delhi to London to Delhi to Kathmandu to Delhi to Bangkok and back to Chiang Mai.

Here in Chiang Mai the beautiful embroidered material is stitched into yoga mat bags, and then released out into the world to keep flowing to where it’s wanted. In keeping with Global Groove tradition, you can not get this in Kathmandu because the fabric doesn't exist there, nor can you get it in Chiang Mai, because this type of hand embroidery doesn't exist here.

It’s still amazing to us, after all these years, that travel and a small spark of inspiration led us to where we are today.

We started out with just a handful of artisans in the beginning, and now there are whole teams working to build this Global Groove Life together and to boost Fair Trade all around the world.





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