Hello! I'm Renee Garland. I've been traveling to Asia for the last 13 years in order to escape snowy Maine winters, hoping to live sunny adventures. My company began 11 years ago with $250 worth of chopsticks. I started selling them at craft fairs and festivals all over coastal Maine. Unfortunately, many people didn't know much about chopsticks! (or Asia for that matter.) Nonetheless, I trudged through the festival scene for several years expanding my inventory to clothing, accessories, gifts, and art. The mission has always been the same; to work with individuals, women's coops, and small home-based businesses to help support and encourage small enterprises. I opened my first store in Portland, in 2006 called "Waterlily." It's filled with Waterlily brand handmade gifts produced both from my travels abroad, and by local artists. I still go on buying adventures, 'cause that's what it's all about. . .

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Emerging from the dust and chai-

I love to sit in the shops and watch all of the buyers from around the world. France, Spain, Italy, England- all of the accents. Everyday I'm meeting new kindred spirits working in the same fashion as I do. Some smaller businesses, some- heh, most actually,  much bigger. All interesting. Every person with their different samples, color choices, swatches. This is grassroots level, this is where all the product comes from that you see everyday. Any market, shop, department store, chain, festival, anywhere. It starts here. It starts with a rickswaw ride, and a shot of chai. It starts with the dust, sweet lassis, touts, cowshit, and factory visits. Cutting swatches, visiting cloth markets, and creating designs based on this. This all. The journey, the people, the hindi, all of the accents from all over the world, and the fresh designs - we start here. The inspiration comes out of the dust and incense, and fills your nostrils. The chai fills your throat. Conversations about color, and cut arise, and are cut off by a beggar just checking in for some bakshish. Not today, "Kuuch Neyyeh". The French women is overpowering the meeting, "I dont want same like las yea. Make me good quality Gopal." I'm sitting and waiting for my turn. Just taking it all in. I have time today. Only a few more days left in India, I want to enjoy each of these moments.
I'm observing and letting my senses take over, crosslegged on the pile of cushions made from patchwork cloths, and the heaps of samples and material. Op! The power has cut! -Incredible India, as they say.

-See that jacket on the rack? It smells of these things. It's alive with the energy of this place.

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