Talking about our friends in Kerala is like talking about family history. This story could go all the way back to when our founder, Lyn Girdler, was a nanny in London 20 years ago.
In 1996, on a journey to backpack around Europe, Lyn took a nanny job in London to earn some extra cash. It was the home of two hip, urban designers who were fully immersed in the cultural art & design scene of south London. They were living in a four story Victorian home, beautifully decorated, in Clapham. This was just before the gentrification of South London, when underground clubs and music venues of Brixton were still blotted with a seedy reputation but were just the places we wanted to hang out.
Scattered on the walls of this beautiful home were pictures of the owners roaming colorful markets and standing on the beaches of south India next to smiling, happy Indians. There were photos of artisans weaving gorgeous textiles and the entire home was awash in color and texture adorned by those same textiles seen being made in those photos.
For a small town Australian girl, this was about as foreign as she could have imagined. But, India was planted as a dream seed.
Years later, Lyn set up, and ran, the U.S. office of the textile company Malabar. This was the same company owned by the father of girls she was nanny to in London. Malabar designs and produces some of the richest cottons and woven blended fabrics on the market, and they're all hand woven in the south of India by the same people Lyn saw in the photos on the wall in the house in London in '96.
To make a long story short, we use the same mill - who've been weaving cottons and linens for nearly 80 years - to make all our cotton bags. After 7 years out of the industry Lyn took a trip down to South India and it was as if time had never passed. She was embraced as a friend and we continue to build business together.
Our friends in Kerala do exceptional work. It's a family run business committed to fair trade practices. Most of their workers have been with the business for more than 10 years. They are paid fair wages, work in clean, healthy conditions and enjoy proper working ours. But, Kerala is a very different state to the rest of India. It's a lot calmer and more civilized and they value education and prosperity.
We're excited to be working with our friends in Kerala again. The bags that they make are of exceptional quality and design and we'll keep innovating with them to keep both our businesses alive.