07 December 2015

Lost in Samsara

Written by Published in Entrepreneurs

Visiting countries where the consequences of unsustainable production are highly visible can have a life-changing impact on us. We know it is hard to change the world, but we can always do something. Lost in Samsara is a positive contribution towards that change

Marvi & AlessiaLost in Samsara is born to bring to the market a selection of products that respect both people and the environment. The founders, Marvi and Alessia, want their brand to be a bridge that reconnects products and people, encourages a slow-production system and  promotes trade over charity.

Sublime: What challenges did you face during the initial set-up?
We are starting small, really small. The lack of adequate capital definitely represents our biggest challenge. We thought the most ethical way to raise money was through a crowd-funding campaign since our initial idea was to open a brick and mortar shop. We didn’t reach our target but the donations helped us to buy part of our stock and gave us the motivation not to give up. We had to adjust our initial plan according to our possibilities and resources, so we opted for pop-ups, markets and online sales hoping we can continue to create more jobs for the amazing projects we have started to collaborate with.

S: How does Lost in Samsara contribute to a more sustainable and fair world?
LS: Lost in Samsara gives the option of buying crafts that don’t cost the Earth and endanger the life of the people involved in the production. We choose products that come from organisations that guarantee their artisans fair wages, good working conditions and give back to the communities. Lost in Samsara also wants to raise awareness here, where the majority of choices are made. We, as consumers, have more power than we think and every time we buy we can have an impact. We want to help showing that another way is possible and economically viable. Knowing the faces and the stories of the artisans can help people get closer to them and add more value to each object. We see this as a way to drive people to think about the whole production system and question where the products we all buy are coming from.

S: Tell us about your suppliers and how do you choose them?
LS: We are always looking for items that strike our attention for the way they embody the ethical principles and the modern design. Therefore we choose the projects that we think offer the most original products and often are completely new to the UK market. Most of all we chose them for the way they give back to their communities and their attention to the environment. For example, we work with an organization in Cambodia that employs disabled people and makes amazing eco-friendly products, upcycled from cement or fish feed bags. We also like to encourage the preservation of traditional methods of production that would otherwise been lost. This is one of the reasons why we chose an organization in Guatemala that promotes the use of ancient weaving techniques, supports indigenous women by developing their skills and provides them access to formal education and health care programs.

Ucycled Cardholder

S: In what way do these products benefit your costumers?
LS: All our products are for everyday use, from little jewelry to bags, from accessories to home-ware items. They are all practical, useful and unique. We offer a range of affordable ethical crafts that will satisfy attentive consumers. We have also started to design some new products and something like our travel cardholder made into the Guardian Christmas Gift Guide. We hope we can fill each and every home with something that is not just beautiful but that will drive change in our everyday life.

S:What do you mean by ‘the Samsara cycle of unsustainable production’?
LS: Samsara is a Sanskrit word, literally meaning: ‘a wandering through.’ In Buddhist teachings, the reason Samsara exists is that people fixate only on themselves and their experiences. It comes from ignorance and it causes a state of suffering and dissatisfaction. As Pema Chödrön said:

“A pithy explanation of the Sanskrit word samsara is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and thinking we’ll get different results.”

Our idea of being ‘Lost in Samsara’ is both personal and related to the ethical trade. For a long time we've been stuck in our daily routines and jobs expecting to get satisfaction from something that did not resemble us. But we were missing the point. We needed to focus on what really matters to us and get the courage to change what we don't like. At the same time, we see this project as our way to break the samsara cycle of unsustainable production, a production that causes suffering to both people and the environment. We would like to start acting differently in order to get different results and Lost in Samsara is our contribution to a more sustainable and fair world.

S: What are the changes you would like to see in your industry?
LS: We are fascinated by the work many people do here and around the world. We would like to see these practices growing and reaching more and more people, not just those who are already aware and conscious customers.

But what we are really looking forward is a world where we are not talking about an ethical industry, but where ethical is the norm here and everywhere; a society that is fair to each and everyone and where healthier and ethical products are available and accessible to all.

S: What are your plans for the near future?
LS: In the future, we would like to collaborate with more projects, and eventually start one ourselves. We will keep designing new items – in fact, we are already working on a new line of rucksacks to be handmade in Bangladesh. For the time being, we’ll keep engaging people at point of sale, especially markets, presenting them with something new and telling them more about the artisans. Our dream is still to open a shop where people can come and relax, have a cup of tea or coffee and hear the stories behind every craft we sell.



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