Same, same...but different
It's one thing to fall in love with a product - I do it all the time, I even create products in my mind and then spend weeks pointlessly searching for them in some vain hope that they exist. But it is another thing entirely to understand where your products come from, to take the time to understand their provenance, to do the leg work, rather than blindly accepting an aesthetic.
Initially, I had to trust what I was told, I was working from home in Brighton and dealing remotely with traders in Turkey. Both the distance and the language barrier were a challenge for all of us. I'll admit in the beginning I was just giddy with excitement - I loved the idea of it all, and was like a bull at a gate to get going. In this whirlwind and hamstrung by geographical distance I took what I was given. Boxes arrived full of colour and texture - it was shopping by proxy and I loved it.
But I had to do the research, it would be completely incongruent not to! And in doing so I uncovered a lovely story. The quality towels and blankets were hand woven on shuttle and semi automatic looms, largely by family ateliers who had been weaving for generations. I learned about the textile region of Denizli where cotton is grown, dyed and woven, and about the impact that machine manufacturing had had on textile centres such as Buldan that has been weaving since the Hellenistic period (281-133 BC) and, the often stark difference between hand and machine weaving.
I also saw the potential - all of the products I was looking at could serve multiple purposes - which meant less clutter, less impact - simpler living.
From there it became very clear, very quickly what the ethos of Lüks should be built on - sustainable, ethical quality. The thought of being able to contribute in some way with my small business to another small business and not to corporations resonated with me. It felt important, worthwhile and spoke to my creative side.
Understanding the craft was key. Wading through those initial boxes of products it became obvious which were hand-loomed and which were machine manufactured. The latter lacked character, they were uniform and coarser, conversely the hand woven products were soft, malleable, the colours and sizes varied slightly and had the occasional loose thread on the selvedge - there was something tactile and personable about them.
All of which put me in a better position and gave me the conviction on how to take the business forward.
As a result of this new found resolution some of my initial traders fell by the wayside, having tried and failed to pass off the machine for the hand. I now currently work with just 3 suppliers, all of which are family businesses and family ateliers. Our relationships are growing, I'm learning about them, about their families and they about me. They understand what I'm looking to achieve because they want the same.
Not 'same, same but different'.