Hello and welcome back to Collectivitea! Today’s story is about the creatives behind the home accessories brand The Silk Road. They offer textiles, jewelry, and other gorgeous finds from their travels around the world. After seeing their travel photographs on Instagram, I reached out to them to hear their story. First, I love their brand aesthetic, and their goal of honoring and supporting the work of artisans. Additionally, a part of me craves a lifestyle that is centered on travel. I love learning how people make it work, and how it has shaped their life. Exploring new places and cultures is about familiarizing yourself with the seemingly unfamiliar. To see past superficial differences, and find the common bond that unites us all. In fact, travel is the fastest way to open to learning and acceptance, and make sure that we don’t root ourselves in judgement. I am so happy to share with you today the story of The Silk Road in the words of founder Rachel Glasby. I’d also love to hear your input and comments, so do share!- Priya
CT: What is The Silk Road about?
RG: The Silk Road began as a way to share the beautiful things I had collected on my travels. I had spent years travelling and sourcing textiles, jewellery, rugs and handmade pieces from across Africa, The Middle East, Asia and the Indian sub-continent. It has now evolved into a place to share a love of these handmade pieces with the travel, artisan stories and travel photography that go alongside them. It is important to me to share the human side of what I do-be it travelling with my family, artisan made pieces or the people I meet on my travels. The Silk Road is more than simply an online shop. It is the story that is woven into the shop that keeps it interesting.
CT: Have you always been creative? And if yes, would you consider yourself a creative entrepreneur? What got you started?
RG: My background is actually not one of creativity at all! I am an Emergency Department Registered Nurse which then led to Remote Area Nursing throughout the Indigenous homelands of Australia. I began travel photography as a hobby in my mid-twenties that coincided with a particularly busy time of travel for my partner-now-husband, and I. I would definitely not say that my photography back then was very good at all, at least in a technical sense. The composition and subject matter was okay, but I actually really struggle with looking at some of my earlier work! I have slowly self-taught myself over the years and have built up a small body of work that I am proud of.
CT: How did you get started on your travels? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
RG: Well, travelling has been a part of my life since I was a child. My mum pulled us out of school and took us backpacking overland for a year when I was 11 which was pretty amazing. I then did a bit of solo travel in South America before I met my husband. When I met Gawaine though things really got moving. We were very fortunate to have a great deal of flexibility in our jobs and we took every opportunity to be travelling.
Over the past 8 years, we have travelled pretty extensively through Iran, India, Jordan, Turkey, across parts of Asia and most of North, East and West Africa. We have had many adventures that looking back were probably not the safest or smartest things to be doing! One particular memory that stands out was crossing overland from Morocco into Mauritania and having to traverse the Western Sahara. The occupied territory of the Western Sahara is highly disputed and once we reached the capital Laayoune we wandered around wondering why all the glass in the windows were shattered. As it turned out it was from bullets.
The extent to which we have travelled has altered the course of my life in a very big way. It has changed the way I think about pretty much everything. It has challenged parts of myself that I needed to change or let go of. And it has made me who I am today- as it does for most people I think. It has definitely been the most influential thing in my life that allowed me to really drop in to who I truly am.
We now have two children and we continue to travel with them which is pretty special. So far they’ve been to India a few times and also Iran, Turkey, Cambodia and Indonesia. Our wish for them is that it’s giving them a sense of the world as a bigger picture. That it’s a world where humanity is what is important, and that we each have more in common than our differences.
Where will I be in five years? Well, thats just too far ahead! The Silk Road is about to launch small bespoke journeys in India in 2018. My goal for this is to show people my India, the India that I dive into when I am there, the places I love to eat, the people I love to catch up with. The Silk Roaders have followed along via IG, and now I think it would be wonderful to share that in person with them.
CT: What advice would you give someone who is starting out as a traveler+ entrepreneur?
RG: Well, it’s a different path for everyone, but I think what has been the most important thing for the growth of The Silk Road is to be honest, be authentic and be respectful. This goes for everything; from your business management, your clients, the way you travel and how you conduct yourself whilst visiting other countries.
CT: What is your favorite part about running The Silk Road?
RG: The Silk Road has been an amazing creative outlet. I have so many ideas rattling around inside my head each night, and never enough time in the day to actualise them! I would have to say I love sharing my travels with the Silk Road supporters. Social media has completely changed the landscape for small business tone able connect on such a personal level. Of course the importance of real, face-to-face connections can and should never be lost, but I have made so many genuine connections and friendships through those tiny squares of Instagram. The success of The Silk Road is also absolutely thanks to the community I have found on Instagram. Perhaps that is a sad reflection of where we are at as humans, I don’t really know. But I think if you’re honest, you’re authentic, you’ve got a story to tell and content to share, social media is an extremely powerful tool.”
I am going to leave you with this short film of their travels in India (see below). The Silk Road is now offering bespoke journeys through India and for details on that, and to shop their finds, please visit The Silk Road here.
Image credits: All images + video are courtesy of Rachel Glasby, The Silk Road.
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