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Connecting Kickstarter Backers with the Artisans in India

Connecting Kickstarter Backers with the Artisans in India

Back in October, we ran our first ever Kickstarter campaign to launch a brand new bag design called the Premji Backpack. As part of the campaign, we offered a reward level that not only included two bags, but also an all expense paid trip to join Ethnotek on a fabric sourcing trip to India. We were honored to have not one, but two awesome backers pledge at that reward level!

When the campaign ended, the real work began; not only with the production of the Premji Pack but also with the preparation and planning of the 14 day trip to India. After getting to know Justin and Kirk (our two wonderful backers) a bit better, we were able to map out an itinerary that not only had time dedicated to meeting the artisans, but also time to explore and learn about the beautiful country itself.

First Stop: Ahmedabad 

Jake and Cori Orak (owners of Ethnotek) started the trip a little over a day before Justin and Kirk arrived, making sure that they had time to arrange everything. This also happened to be Cori’s birthday, so the two of them took a rickshaw adventure to Gandhi’s ashram- which for sure set a positive vibe for the entire trip!

After Justin and Kirk’s arrival in the wee hours of the night, we all met up for a delicious lunch to get to know each other, have a quick meeting and introduction with Ashok and Purnima, (who are the local shipping magicians that have played a huge role in bringing the amazing textiles from India to our Tribe members around the world) and to lay out the plan for the rest of the afternoon. They decided to hop into rickshaws and head out to the Adalaj step well, which left the entire group in awe!

The next morning was a nice early rise to start the seven-hour car ride to Bhuj to meet the artisans!

Next Stop: Bhuj

As the sun was setting, and after everyone had checked into the accommodations, we were off to have dinner with Pankaj and Mina, our local logistics gurus and connection to all the artisans and tribes in the region.

With full bellies, everyone packed in for the night. It was hard to sleep though, knowing that the next day we’d share experiences with Shamji, his family, explanations and demonstrations of the weaving and dyeing techniques and of course a meet up with the main man himself, Premji!

Pictured Above: Shamji teaching us about the Indigo dying process

Pictured Above: The group with none other than Premji himself!

The entire group had their minds blown seeing the amazing techniques in person and Cori, Justin and Kirk watched in awe as Jake and Shamji partnered up in long conversations about future projects, indigo and natural dyeing times and techniques, and new production terms leading to year round employment for the artisans in his village.

After our souls were filled with the connections we made with the artisans and seeing the process first-hand, we kickstarted our adventures together! We traveled to Jodhpur, Pushkar, Delhi, and Agra via plane, train, rickshaw, car, and foot. Below is a collection of photos from that amazing journey.

Destinations Jodhpur and Pushkar: 

Last two stops: Delhi and Agra!

And that brings a colorful conclusion to the 2017 India sourcing trip with two of our Kickstarter backers, Justin & Kirk! The two week trip with our tight little crew was epic! Some of us got sick, some got spit on by a camel and some were blessed by Brahmans. We connected with and learned from the artisans, we pushed the boundaries of our comfort zones, tried new things and made lasting friendships. We'll never forget this journey. Thanks, Justin and Kirk for the incredible experience!

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