Thursday, 14 March 2013

where it all began

I left my buyer job at Fortnum and Mason to embark on an extended inspirational trip to the Far East. My intention was to find the right people to work with so that when we returned, I would have projects to work on and launch my own brand. 
My favourite part of my job as a buyer was sourcing and working with independent creatives, developing a commercial product that would sit on the shelves. Now I wanted to do that for myself. 
Spending 5 months in India, I spied two opportunities that were promising and exciting (more from those later!) but I was yet to find something that would blow me away and that I could really run with until I found Lana's workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

We had flown to Yogyakarta (also known as Yogya, pronouncing the Y as a J) about two thirds of the way into our trip. We had been away for 7 months and having spent 5 weeks island hopping from Bali to Lombok and the Gili Islands (just off the island of Lombok) totally blissed out - with only horse drawn carts to get around, 

I still cant believe the beauty of the pale turquoise water on
Gili Meno
we were catapulted back into city life.

As you can imagine the islands were hard to leave but instantly I fell in love with Yogya city. 

I knew it was here that great things were going to happen! I felt very at home. The pace was relaxed but busy - mixing the old with the new. The most wonderful fresh food, indoor markets and street food vendors selling bakso and soto 

We were back into the culture of this vast continent. 

One afternoon, I literally walked off the street, into a shop that caught my eye and after a lot of smiling, nodding and giggling, I met Lana, the owner of the workshop and the seed in our relationship was immediately sown.

I couldn’t believe what I saw - rows and rows of rolls of colourful printed mendong. 

I have worked with this fabric mendong before out of Indonesia, knew it sold well made into boxes, home office and table top in the UK and immediately could see huge potential in what Lana's workshop were doing. 

Her team of workers construct and assemble the product whilst her brother supplies the woven and printed mendong fabric from villages in East Java.

The quality of workmanship was excellent and the working conditions were impeccable. Everyone looked happy and I was ecstatic at finding something like this that adhered to everything I was looking for in a possible partnership.  I asked about own printing, colours and confirgurations and she told me they can do any bespoke design, colour and print to my specifications. Each piece is individually handmade with careful detailed attention to finishing and I realised then that this was the beginning of my story.

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