I grew up in South Africa – a beautiful country with so much to offer. Except to me (at that time) it didn’t offer what I really wanted – the ability to travel freely and easily around the world.
So at the tender age of 20 I upped sticks and moved to the UK with the intention of working for a year or two to save money and then backpack around the world. The best laid plans of mice and (wo)men…
Eventually I did get to travel though. Somewhat differently and later than I expected but indeed did I travel! In 2013 I set out on bicycle with my partner with the vague plan of heading East and seeing how far we got.
Almost 2 years and over 20,000 km’s later we arrived at our final destination – Thailand. It had been a life changing experience and one that I would never change for the world! Now that we were back however I began to wonder, ‘What next?’.
It seemed obvious that I should combine my true loves.
- Beautiful crafts – Growing up in South Africa I have always been surrounded by amazing hand made goods from wire and bead work to woodcarving and painting. It helped that my mother was an artist too!
- Travel – I would always gravitate to the markets on our travels, and much to my partners disgust I would normally walk away with some small (mostly!) memento from our travels. Although he drew the line at getting a Shyrdak from Kyrgyzstan – I’m not sure how we would have travelled with a large felt rug on our bicycles!
But it’s not all about me. Sure, I want to make a living, but more importantly I want to make a living that isn’t at the expense of others or the environment. We live in a world of fast and cheap fashion with people thinking very little about how or where things are made or what happens to it when they are done with it. And trying to change peoples outlook on this is another one of my passions.
So that is how I decided what I wanted to do next. Use my experiences from the markets of carpet sellers in Iran, and the scarf weavers in Laos and the bustling hawkers on the street corners of South Africa and bring all the amazing crafts from around the world together in one space. A space defined by it’s ethics as much as its beauty. And so Karakorum was born.
I hope you join me on my travels along the still existing and still mysterious trade routes of the world.