Having spent several years working at most of the UK's major music festivals, working various roles associated with managing the sites waste and recycling, an experience that really opened us up to the reality of our disposable lifestyles. We (me, Daisy and my partner Ozric) decided to spend 3 months from the 07/01/2013 travelling in India, it was here that we met Pinu and Manish who were already creating amazing things out of recycled materials and where the idea for our recycled leather bag range became a reality.
We then headed to Goa to spend some time relaxing on the beach, drinking cocktails and swimming in the sea every day!
The most famous market in Goa is the Anjuna flea market which was jammed full of textiles and jewellery of every kind imaginable, the smell of spices mingling with the sea breeze.
From Goa we travelled to Hampi, known for its strange rock formations and beautiful temples.
From Jaisalmer just 200km from the border with Pakistan we went on an overnight Camel Trek into the Thar Desert where our guides cooked us a simple, traditional rice meal and we slept on blankets on the sand dunes.
Having spent time in some rather rural settings, it was really nice to be away from western consumerism pressures. Everything we spent money on had a direct impact on the local community.
We started our travels on the South West Coast with the plan to travel up the whole of the West Coast and then on to Nepal. The first place we visited was Kerala, known for its beautiful greenery and houseboats where we took a tour in a little rowing boat and had lunch at the house of the friend of our driver which was served on a banana leaf, eaten with your hand and grown only a few metres away from the table from which we were eating, it was really good to be able to have that sort of connection with the food you were eating, knowing everything about how it got from the ground to you.
In Mysore we met a Tuk Tuk driver who heard about our interest in local crafts and showed us all the different crafts that the city is famous for, the handrolled Bidi cigarettes that all Indians smoke, I got taught how to make incense sticks and we saw traditional wedding bed headboards being intricately hand carved. Each person who makes each of these things is so skilled at their craft and there is a whole community spirit around each one. Everyone was more than happy to tell us about their work and they all clearly loved what they do. It was refreshing to see someone making the thing that we were buying (incense) as when you buy from a shop in England you forget that it is someones livelihood! He also taught us both to drive his Tuk Tuk but with the crazy traffic in the cities I think we will leave the driving to him!
Daisy and Ozric at Latitude Festival
Learning to make incense sticks
One of the camels we rode and the desert sunset.
Since leaving Tibet, the Dalai Lama has taken up residence in Dharamsala, Northern India in the Himalayas and we visited the temple where he lives.
After submerging ourselves in the modest lifestyles of the Tibetan Buddhist community, we were really drawn in by their pacifistic, minimalist honest and natural lifestyles. So of course we found it very ironic that we caught a monk slipping on a pair of Ugg boots around the time that Ugg where being scrutinized for their mistreatment of animals.
It was in Rajasthan that we met Pinu and Manish, With the shock of the festivals still in our mind we came across their shop where they were already creating incredible things from recycled materials and we were completely blown away by their work. We soon began on our own range of recycled leather bags. The idea behind the range was to create something that wouldn't cost the earth, and also live a long life. We brought them back expecting to just sell them to friends and family but word soon spread and we set up our first retail outlet in Vintage Retreat selling not just the bags but other goodies that we had brought home with us.
Mcleod Ganj and a Monk putting on his uggs.