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Habitation Co. is committed to honoring the process of living in a particular place and the journey of discovering beautiful objects that reflect the unique styles and stories of artists around the world.  Every pretty item you purchase supports creative individuals, communities, and organizations on almost every continent.

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Filtering by Tag: products

About the Process: Wolof Weavers of Senegal

Hailey Fynaardt

For the Wolof women of Senegal, weaving is not only an important cultural tradition that is passed down through generations, but a viable means of earning an income in rural villages where resources and infrastructure is limited. As teenagers, girls learn the techniques from their mothers and aunts and sell the baskets in local markets. 

image via SwahiliModern

image via SwahiliModern

The Wolof people are mostly Muslim and they use these simple prayer mats several times a day. When the mats wear out, the discarded material is repurposed into practical home decor products like baskets and hampers. The Wolof technique of wrapping natural fibers with plastic cord and then coiling the long strands together makes these baskets ultra-durable and resistant to heat or moisture damage.

image via thelittlemarket

image via thelittlemarket

These simple and modern baskets are a stylish and practical way to store everyday items in every room of the house. In a bathroom they could stash towels, hair brushes, and toiletries. On a shelf or dresser, they can keep small accessories within reach. They also look great atop a bookshelf or cabinet. They're ethical, sustainable, and minimalist-approved!

FAQ: Where in the World Do You Find This Stuff?

Hailey Fynaardt

My fellow treasure hunters, deep in the thick of our first market experience in Nawalgarh, India last March. 

My fellow treasure hunters, deep in the thick of our first market experience in Nawalgarh, India last March. 

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is "where do you find all of these things?" Or, how do I source merchandise for the Habitation Co. shop. Of course, the most romantic answer is the one involving me wandering outdoor markets and bazaars in exotic countries, digging through piles of textiles and handicrafts, engaged in friendly bartering banter with the shop keepers. And, yes, while this is how I have found a few items in the shop, the methods I use for the majority of ordering may seem surprisingly simple and modern... I go online.

My goal as I set out to build Habitation was not to try to re-invent the wheel of Fair Trade businesses or to become a manufacturer of goods- I knew that my plan was strictly retail, as in, I sell things that other people produce. This decision was a natural one because my background has been in working for small retail businesses, and I know absolutely nothing about actually making products for wholesale. But it also stems from the fact that I have a difficult relationship with many other Western-owned (read white-female) "fair trade" businesses that dictate the styles and types of products the artisans make (based on Western, white-female trends). I have started several other posts along these lines, but I want to tread carefully as my thoughts and opinions are constantly evolving along with my own business. Simply, I knew that I wanted to build a retail business with companies/products that reflect my own values (yes, as a Western white-female) as well as the integrity and creative freedom of the artists and artisans who produce them, and not just what fashion trends dictate. 

The good news is that our world is more interconnected than ever and there seems to be a global-shift happening in terms of sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices. Platforms like social media sites have also made the Internet a giant melting pot of styles, trends, and standards in terms of fashion and design, particularly among the Gen Y crowd. In terms of "conscious fashion" and environmentalism, there has truly never been a better time to find fashion-forward yet authentic, ethically-produced pieces for your home and wardrobe. 

Habitation was ultimately born out of my own desire to buy/use/wear more sustainable and ethical products without compromising my personal style or twenty-something budget. I simply didn't like having to choose between something stylish and something that wasn't made using slave labor. When many people, myself included, think of "fair trade" products they think of expensive coffee, chocolate, tie-dye, felt, and incense- your local health-food store probably has an entire aisle dedicated to these products. While I think all of the above are great, I knew that there was a much bigger, untapped market of "fair trade" products out there... I would just have to go find them. 

And here's how:

1. Online

I started my hunt for merchandise by combing through websites of larger players in the ethical/sustainable movement: The Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade Africa/India, World Fair Trade Organization, etc. and searching through hundreds of individual websites and thousands of products picking items out one at a time. I have also connected with other vendors through social media and platforms such as Etsy and Pinterest. I now have a dozen or so companies that I repeatedly order from whose quality is in line with my (very high) standards. 

2. Travel

I also made a running list in my phone each time I came across a product in a shop or while traveling that I felt would be a good fit for Habitation. Some of the smaller vendors may have only an email address or a Facebook account, whereas larger companies have distribution centers right here in the U.S.. Some of these orders have looked like shady wire transfers and inconspicuous cardboard boxes miraculously showing up on my porch days or weeks later. Others have been through PayPal, Square, and other handy tools. 

3. Merchandise Markets

One of my goals for last year was to attend 1-2 merchandise markets which was super easy as there is a smaller show in LA twice a year. In terms of variety and quality of vendors, the bigger shows in Vegas, New York, and Texas likely have a lot more to offer, but the LA show was a good taste of what a merchandise market is like- which, as it turns out, is not very different from the markets in India and Africa. In the end I did find a few local vendors ( tea towels, and jewelry) that have been a great fit for the shop. I am hoping to be able to attend a bigger show in the future when a business trip is in the budget. 

4. Recommendations

Another way that I have found products for the shop is through recommendations from friends who have either stumbled across a great item while on their own travels and adventures or know of an artist or maker who they felt would be a good fit. I love discovering new people to work with, and the more eyes out there searching for treasure, the better! 

What products would you love to see more of at Habitation Co.? Home Decor, accessories, etc... what's on your "wishlist" for this season? 

Do you have a favorite ethically-produced or sustainably-sourced product that you think would be a great fit for Habitation Co.? I'd love to support other creative businesses and share them with our corner of the world. Drop me a note at info@habitationco.com

Me and "my woodblock guy", Girish in his shop in Khan Market, New Delhi. 

Me and "my woodblock guy", Girish in his shop in Khan Market, New Delhi. 


Enjoy the process!

Hailey

About the Process: Handmade Malas From The Himalayas // Habitation Co.

Hailey Fynaardt

About the Process: Handmade Malas From The Himalayas // Habitation Co.

It seems like everywhere you turn these days someone is sharing a new tool or concept for helping us stay focused throughout our days. From day planners to devotionals, essential oils to e-courses... focus seems to be at the front of everyone's minds and being "more mindful" is on everyone's list of New Year's resolutions. 

Remember the old ClipArt graphic of an idex finger with a tiny bow tied around it? This was the universal symbol for "needing to remember something important", inspired by the odd physical act of tying a string around your finger to serve as a visual reminder, that I'm assuming people did before pencils, or iPhones, or whatever. But whether it was a reminder to pray for a loved one, make a doctor's appointment, or to not act on an old habit, every time you saw the string, you were reminded of that thing. 

While there are many tools we can use today to help us remember important things, by far the most beautiful I have seen are the prayer beads known as "malas", traditionally worn around the neck or wrapped around one's wrist. Historically, the beads themselves were blessed by monks in remote villages along the Himalayan Mountain range, and presented to their wearer as a tangible reminder of a specific idea or meditation such as "patience", "forgiveness", or "peace". Today, they have become popular accessories in yoga communities and for individuals simply wanting to wear a tangible reminder of their intentions and desires. Similar to rosary beads, the idea behind a mala is that as each bead is passed through one's fingers, a prayer or mantra is repeated until you reach the beginning. 

Not only do I love the cultural and historical significance of malas, I also think they happen to be absolutely beautiful both as personal accessories and home decor, so when my friend Lisa approached me with the idea of carrying her newly designed mala bead necklaces in the shop, I was beyond excited! They are simple but stunning, all one-of-a-kind, and made of aromatic sandalwood, natural beads, and semi-precious gemstones. Read more about these new beauties below, and head over to the shop to pick out one that speaks to you!


Almost a year ago, I had the immense pleasure of visiting India for the first time, and while the country itself was vibrant, thrilling, and wild beyond my greatest expectations, I was also able to meet and travel alongside some of the most incredible women I have ever met. One of those women, Lisa Kumari-Conlon, also happened to be responsible for coordinating the logistics of the trip – like where we slept, ate, and could each spend a small fortune on the very best souvenirs.

image via AboveTheClouds  I mean, really, did you expect me to not instantly befriend this woman?

image via AboveTheClouds

I mean, really, did you expect me to not instantly befriend this woman?

Lisa’s dad, Steve, founded Above the Clouds, a boutique travel agency, in 1982 and spent the following three decades growing it into a premier resource for adventure travel to Southern Asia, India, and South America. In 2013, Lisa took over the day-to-day operations of ATC and has since expanded to include Tales From Above The Clouds- a thoughtful collection of handmade, sustainable, and ethically- sourced jewelry and accessories, including our new one-of-a-kind Mala Bead necklaces.

image via AboveTheClouds  Lisa, making trekking look good since 1990. 

image via AboveTheClouds

Lisa, making trekking look good since 1990. 

Each of these malas has been lovingly assembled by hand in the USA with beads and semi-precious gemstones acquired along the trails of the Himalayas and in parts of Indonesia, during Lisa’s many treks and visits over the past few years. All of the beads used in these necklaces have been repurposed from old malas that were given as gifts or found in the rural monastic communities throughout the region.

About the Process: Handmade Malas From The Himalayas // Habitation Co.

Nomadic tribes have a long history of trading precious and semi-precious stones along their herding paths across the great Tibetan Plateau that stretches from Western China to Kashmir, India. Today, bead and jewelry making is still a vibrant part of their ancestor’s culture and a way of life for many people in that part of the world.

image via circleofblue

image via circleofblue

Traditional malas have 108 beads denoting the auspicious belief found in Hindu and Buddhist beliefs that are indigenous to Eastern and Southern Asia. Our malas feature unique patterns of aromatic sandalwood, rudraksha, raktu, and lotus beads, with turquoise, malachite, and lapis gemstones. The plush tassels add movement and playfulness, reminding the wearer to not be weighed down by the world.

image via AboveTheClouds

image via AboveTheClouds

While mala beads have been used historically in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, they are becoming popular tools for prayer and meditation in a variety of beliefs. Although they are designed to be worn around the neck or wrapped around a wrist, we think our malas look just as beautiful as decorative objects, whether hung on a wall or displayed on a shelf or tabletop!

image via AboveTheClouds

image via AboveTheClouds

Shop Our Collection of Handmade Malas: