I do love to discover and explore new places and, on my travels, I like to collect unique and original artwork and gifts for ourselves, friends and family. I'm not talking about the souvenier t-shirt or spoon, but something that is special that represents the people, culture and uniqueness of each I place I visited.
And oddly enough, this is not always an easy task to achieve. Let me give you an example. A few years back I had the privilege of travelling to numerous countries between Australia and Europe in the space of a couple of months. One thing that struck me was the dominance of chain stores. It didn't really matter if I was in Rome, Paris, Hong Kong, Australia or New Zealand, the stores were all the same.
If my purpose wasn't to find things that were representative of the places I visited, I probably could have saved myself a lot of time and luggage allowance by just going to a shopping centre when I hit home.
The Revival And Bringing Back Originality
So there is probably a lot of truth when people say our lives and consumer choices are being driven by multi-national companies and their marketing campaigns. They do have the ability to distribute and reach markets that small businesses only dream of. Their hourly 'Google Adwords' budgets could probably feed a small country.
But there is also a new wave happening and it is one that is being driven by people like you and me, who are seeing a need for social change. We are all becoming more and more aware of world events. News is not just something we tune into at 6pm each night. Throughout each day, we find ourselves with a few minutes to spare so we often pop on our phones and check out what is happening.
We are all becoming more aware of the economic imbalance between countries and the injustices around the world. As a result, people's desire to see social change is also on the rise. The good news is that this is not just an issue to be left with our governments and world leaders, but one that we can also make a difference in everyday through our buying-choices. And our ability to make a difference this way is also becoming easier.
There are small businesses, social enterprises and artists all over the world that are making products that are beautiful and unique, and of a quality that surpasses that of commercial industries. Advancements in technology mean they now have the ability to access markets at their fingertips. All they need is a smart phone or computer, and access to the internet. They are building businesses that not only provide for their customers and clients, but also serve the communities they live in or causes they are passionate about.
And they are bringing with them amazing talent and originality.
How Does Shambhala Fit Into This?
Our vision at Shambhala House is to play a key role in bringing to our clients and customers the beautiful and unique products being produced by community-minded small businesses, social enterprises and artists.
Yes, it is a business that is easy to be passionate about. But it is more than that. We believe in ethical marketing and the collective's ability to bring about change. We also see a real demand for the originality of the products themselves, whether it be gifts, clothing, accessories, jewellery, homewares, furniture, etc. People are after things that add to their own personality and that of their homes. This individuality simply can not be attained by mass produced items.
Creating A Village And Making A Difference
So what types of things are people doing out there and how are they doing it? Well there is lots, but here are three examples of people we source from to give you some idea:
Yin Jewelry For The Soul: A perfect example of a community-minded small business that is making a difference. Yin is a beautiful range of jewellery from Bali, Indonesia. Its inspiration comes from the earth’s energy, borrowed from nature and spirit guides, and is designed to nourish the soul.
Yin is a small business that is involved with three very different programs that give back to the community where they live and work. They support Bumi Sehat (a free birthing clinic), Pelangi School scholarship program, and Kerobokan Jail's silver-smithing program.
They also operate under the principles of Fair Trade. In brief, they pay their artisans better than fair price per piece of jewellery, a price that is set by the artisans themselves. Children are not employed, and female silversmiths are valued and paid the same as their male counterparts. Artisans are also given the freedom of working from their own home according to their own schedule to ensure they can meet their own family and spiritual needs. Both, of which, are important to the Balinese people.
Yayasan Cheshire Indonesia is a great example of a social enterprise turning itself into a commercially viable business. It is a residential, vocational training program for adult men and women with mobility disabilities. It offers a home to people with disabilities whose families are not able (financially or otherwise) to care for them. Yayasan Cheshire gives its residents with vocational training in carpentry, handicraft sewing, tailoring and computers, with the intention that every resident is able to become financially independent.
The workmanship that goes into their beautiful range of products is amazing and easily surpasses that of similar items produced in a factory. They produce a range of quilted and handsewn items from jewellery pouches and bags all lined with satin to casserole holders, oven gloves and much more.
Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Vietnam is a great example of a community working together to develop an industry to support its people. Thanh Ha was established in the 15th century, and, traditionally, they made pottery items to serve the daily lives of the native people in domestic markets, eg bowls, jars, pots, animal shapes, etc.
Following challenging times, economic difficulties and foreign competition, the local people have now transformed their village's industry. Today sees them using their time-honoured skills to produce beautiful pottery items that appeal to foreigners and the international market, while still incorporating their traditions. This has allowed them to continue to pass down to younger generations the skills and techniques inherited from their ancestors, while giving the village a commercially viable industry to continue to preserve their traditions and support themselves economically.
We do have more suppliers such as these in our business and our dream is to continue to expand, and make a difference in people's lives.
We are learning more and discovering new opportunities each day so be part of the change and join us on our journey by:
Thank you for being part of making the world a better place for all.