Prologue: The Girl Gone Authentic Journeys to Social Impact
Let’s set the mood and take you back to where the journey to social impact really began:
The sky was lit with a kaleidoscope of the dancing city lights. Soft chatters and occasional laughter of friends, families and lovers filled the air. The strong aroma of the local nasi lemak added a certain magic to this particular Friday night.
She sat there, starry eyed and a half smile as if amused by the perfect synchronicity of the modern art-like Singapore – the complete opposite of Botswana, her motherland.
It was not long before the last seat available, which so happened to be next to hers was taken by an equally curious soul from Holland. Like old friends reunited, they quenched their thirst with old stories, ‘til the morning light.
As the stars had it, the duo reunited in the City of Angels – or, a gorgeous chaos of a city some like to call Bangkok. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and Stacii, the marketplace for the #GirlGoneAuthentic was conceived.
The narrow roads lead to lush greenery – a million rice fields on one direction and peaks of majestic hills in the other. Here, we found warm hearts and genuine smiles that call northern Thailand home. This was an instant eye opener and just like that, that Stacii now had a purpose within the community.
Chapter 1: Colors of the East
In the whimsical Thai hills, we met with the local communities and discovered a vast number of families who made beautiful, natural crafts. However, they had no reliable source of income to continue freely doing their craft while supporting their families. Living in the hills meant they would have to travel down the hills in the wee hours, carrying their stock to get to the local markets. The process would later repeat with them heading up the hills with their loads when the markets closed.
Clearly something was not right here. We believe with their craft, the people are empowered beyond measure. The missing link was an alternative to this extensive journey. The Colors of the East Bazaar started, selling handmade home accessories and natural textile wear. Our wish was to create longevity, where even if we were not there, the people would continue using modern technology to earn a sustainable income stream. This is an ongoing process of sharing knowledge and we hope that together, we can build a brighter future preserving age old craft techniques, which are also accessible to a global market.
By now, social impact is a word that we are only learning about, so perhaps on a later day, we can adopt a definition that we can share with you.
Chapter 2: The Essential – Breaking the Non – Essential Chain
While journeying through South East Asia, it became apparent that although the local communities are set in their low impact environmental textile and craft ways, the larger population was unaware of the sky rocketing plastic pollution numbers. We discovered that the average closet is essentially made up of plastic. This is because more than 60 percent of the global fiber market is polyester – a carbon intensive petroleum that when refined, looks like cotton, silk, faux fur or anything we want it to be really.
Now, we are aware (as we are almost certain you are too) of the global ocean plastic crisis, where it is estimated that if we don’t do anything now, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. What was shocking was the revelation that 86 percent of the ocean plastic comes from Asia as there is no apparent recycling infrastructure set. Asia is also where 86 percent of polyester textiles are manufactured.
We are strong believers in that we, as a human race should leave Earth as we found her, so of course this realization is still not easy to digest. After raging and ranting, we cracked our heads on how we can move forward. It is now, more than ever essential to break the non essential chain – meaning, whatever is plastic, we are good thank you very much. Our mantra is zero plastic, zero sweatshops and 100 percent true quality style. And, we are taking it back to basics by working with local designers and crafters who have perfected generations of textile and craft production, without the need for plastic. Our hope is to break the garment plastic chain, preserve old traditions and along the way, stir an appreciation for the craft and textile process. Join us in nurturing Mother Earth back to health.