Friday, February 1, 2013

House of Wandering Silk - Driven by sustainability & inspired by the handmade

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The story behind House of Wandering Silk is a truly inspirational one. It is not everyday that I come across women like Katherine Neumann who decide to move out of their comfort zone to take up a cause just out of the sheer passion for it! Katherine was born and raised in Australia and has been working in India to realize this passion through House of Wandering Silk. 

The House of Wandering Silk is one woman's dream to produce sustainable, unique and exquisite handmade products that celebrate Asian textiles and embellishment techniques. I am so happy to share Katherine's journey with her Silks!

Born to European immigrant parents in Australia, Katherine spent a lot of her childhood travelling. She completed her university degree in International Relations in a Japanese university and realized that She wanted to work in the Developmental sector. After a series of internships, Katherine worked across Asia, Africa and the Middle East mostly in Humanitarian emergencies (conflicts, cyclones, earthquakes, etc) 


Inspired by a few social entrepreneurs and her interest in textiles and traditional embroidery especially for Asian textiles, Katherine decided to combine this passion with working towards a social cause, particularly targeting women suffering from poverty and discrimination. She moved to India in 2010, determined to establish a platform for this - starting off with a fair trade business leading to the birth of House of Wandering Silk. 


Katherine says that this work is based on 2 principles: "on the one hand we look at possibilities of reusing or 'upcycling' vintage textiles or pieces of embroidery and use of organic and handmade materials - with a view to environmental sustainability, such as our upcycled vintage sari scarves. On the other, we ensure sustainable production processes by respecting fair trade principles, and reinvesting proceeds into the development of impoverished communities."

For House of Wandering Silk, its not just about buying and selling, it is dedication to try and connect the person wearing/using one of their products with the story behind the product and the artisan responsible for the handwork. For HOWS, those who buy one of the products are more than consumers, and those who produce the products are more than laborers.  

For Katherine the idea behind this is that we are all connected, and a women sitting in a mud house in rural West Bengal hand stitching a scarf is not really so far removed from a woman in Tokyo or London wearing it. From this improved connectivity, HOWS hopes to encourage greater global interest in and awareness of the plight of women in certain areas of Asia - many of whom suffer inconceivable poverty, discrimination and injustice. Watch this amazing video  - The Journey of a Scarf for an insight into Katherine's work.

To mark the end of House of Wandering Silk's first year, there is a 5% discount on their fabulous products purchased from their online storeJust drop them an email when you make your next purchase with the code, "DISCOUNT" and they will reimburse you. Offer lasts until 31st March, 2013. And Yes, they ship internationally!

Visit their website and online store here.
Like their Facebook page here
Read more about kantha embroidery here
Like the Handmade Talks Facebook page here





                                                            All photos belong to The House of Wandering Silk




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