Thinking through sustainability and ethics

smartphone with recycling symbol on screen placed

I can’t believe  it has been so long since my last post! This year has just flown along.

Never fear though – We are still here!

It’s been a very busy year for me personally so the social profile of Karakorum has been keeping a rather low profile! However that doesn’t mean that Karakorum hasn’t been hard at work.

We have been making contacts and looking into new suppliers and engrossed in future planning. Sustainability and ethics at the top of our agenda as usual, which always adds an extra dimension to sourcing products. I’m planning a trip or two to Central Asia next year to talk to producers about some crafts that I have had my eye on since we cycled through there 4 years ago.

I’ve been very happily following and taking inspiration some of the amazing shops across the pond in the United States that stock ethical goods such as KAZI Goods and Ten Thousand Villages

While we continue to work with with Swazi Candles and Gone Rural we are hoping to add a few more lines in the near future. See below for a sneak peak of what will be in stock soon.

We will also be at a few Christmas markets so don’t forget to check our events page to see if we will be in a town near you soon. The Victorian market in Gloucester (which is a grand event) is the biggest one so look out for me swishing around in some Victorian finery and selling for social good. Let’s hope the this Xmas brings some fine if wintry weather.

recycled metal mirror

ethical rag rug

Gone Rural – These baskets are all heart!

Ladies with grass and placemats in countryside
‘Preserving the past, understanding the present and pioneering the future’.
– Jenny Thorne

The addition of Gone Rural to my product line was a little bit of a no-brainer. I came across them when I was looking into Swazi candles because they are also founding members of SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade) and I was immediately blown away by how beautiful and well made they were.

Add to that they a) have an amazing ethos b) use sustainable materials and c) and have done many wonderful things for the nearby communities in Swaziland.

5 great reasons to choose to work with them without even having to look hard. As I said – a no-brainer.

Founded with a vision to empower women in some of the most remote areas of Swaziland, Gone Rural has evolved into a Handcraft company and design brand that uses creativity to ignite change on a community level. Gone Rural today is a role model in social enterprise in world-class handcraft, while also addressing wider community needs by running health and education programs for their artisans and communities.

Gone Rural’s roots began in a thatched mud hut in the 1970s. Here their founder Jenny Thorne, ran a small craft shop called Tishweshwe, selling handmade clothes, accessories and anti-apartheid literature. As the business grew, sprouting two other retail outlets across Swaziland, Jenny was inspired to focus on hand-woven products and ventured into the mountains, where the Lutindzi grass grows wild and abundant. Her vision? To give Swazi women independence: a voice. And so, in 1992, Gone Rural was born.

Fast forward twenty years and Gone Rural is now working with over 770 artisans in 53 communities across the country and selling those women’s products to retailers around the world.


Gone Rural is constantly reinventing the traditional weaving techniques and revolutionising the world-view of African handcraft. Their products range from functional homeware to gallery pieces, with natural and recycled materials and
innovative contemporary designs. Inspired by the lutindzi grass (a highly sustainable yet strong material) of the mountains of Swaziland and the female leaders of rural communities, Gone Rural transforms the indigenous art of weaving into high-quality products that are showcased and loved all over the world.

To go back to how they help the communities around them – they have a program called BoMake, (meaning ‘women’ or ‘mothers’ in Siswati). Gone Rural established it to bring health clinics, clean water and a school bursary fee program, among other social needs, to impact to more than 20,000 community members. In addition to all this, they have empowerment programs that educate the women on their basic human rights, micro-enterprise and business literacy. They also have social workshops on gender-based violence and victim support. All of this in a country where up until 2006  women had a legal status of minors, and a vast majority (as much as two-thirds of the female population) face abuse.

What an absolutely inspirational company with beautiful and innovative handicrafts!

Shop now.

  • https://www.goneruralswazi.com/
  • http://tdsblog.com/gone-rural-swaziland-feel-good-decor/
  • http://www.irinnews.org/news/2007/09/17/two-thirds-women-beaten-and-abused