Sometimes things just work out—even if it’s not in the way you’d expect.
Earlier this year, I decided to expand my business. I was very happy with the positive responses I had received from people who had my products in their homes and believed that developing new products would be a fun challenge and a rewarding experience. After some careful planning, I set off to develop new designs and diverse products for the coming year.
As I looked at my growing product line, I realized that I would need to expand my production team. After a lot of research—finding addresses, sending messages, asking questions and learning all I could—I decided to plan a trip to India to meet with artisans and craftspeople who could help me to regularly source high-quality materials.
A friend of mine from Belgium decided she wanted to come on the trip as well. A designer with a passion for textiles herself, she knew the experience would be a great opportunity to connect with skilled artisans. Soon we were on a plane to India, crossing our fingers that all of our efforts would pay off.
I’ll be honest, I left with super low expectations—like zero expectations.
It wasn’t that I believed we wouldn't make the connections we were looking to make, it was just that my experiences thus far had been a bit underwhelming. Often I would not receive responses to my inquiries when I reached out, and even when I did, the people I would try to schedule meetings with wouldn’t answer. So I wasn’t really sure whether or not this would workout—but I had hope!
Then we hit another roadblock.
Our first stop on the trip was supposed to be New Delhi. When we arrived however, the air quality was so poor that we immediately took a flight to Jaipur and decided to start our journey there.
This wasn’t what we had planned, but it would have to do. As fate would have it, this was exactly where we needed to be.
Jaipur turned out to be a treasure trove of artisan work. While there, we met with artisans who specialized not only in textiles, but also pottery, wood working, block printing and more. We visited tailors, spent days with the owners of rug companies, wandered the shops and studios of high-end designers, and even explored a few “Ali Baba Caves”—huge rooms whose walls and
floors were lined with textiles, blankets and pillows—Pure heaven for us!
It was impressive to see how everything is hand made in India. Sadly, most of the companies there can’t really say where their cotton comes from—and almost no one has the organic label. Same goes for the bath of dyes. Even for the indigo dye they almost always add some chemicals. It’s really hard to track.
Fortunately for us, we found exactly what we were looking for just 200km outside of Jaipur. There we met an Australian woman who, after starting a hotel with her Indian husband, decided her heart was set on doing something else—work where she could make a difference.
Eventually she decided to try her hand at creating textiles with fabrics sourced from local farmers. All plant-based, all natural. Not only are her dyes and fabrics naturally sourced, but her business also helps local women earn the money they need to send their children to school. She now has 30 women and men working on site, with many more working from other locations.
This was the perfect fit. Now the fabric we’re going to buy with them is hand spun, hand weaved, naturally sourced and sustainable. In addition, working with these artisans will be an amazing opportunity for us to help women and children in this community.
I am so excited to have met people I feel I can work with and to see what the future holds. It was great to meet all of these artisans in person, to see everything first hand and to open my eyes to the culture. It was a truly eye-opening experience and I’m so glad things worked out the way they did.
In the end we spent a few weeks in Rajasthan and only a few days in New Delhi, where we were able to visit some of the region’s remarkable sights and landmarks. When it was all said and done our trip had taken us on a few unexpected turns, but in the end it all worked out. It wasn’t the trip we had planned, but it turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.