I have been travelling to Bali my entire life. Initially it was just a family vacation spot but I have grown to love everything about the island over the nine times I've visited. The Balinese residents are some of the most friendly people you could meet. Warm smiles. Cheeky attitudes. And an inner need to want to barter you into the ground. I love that about them.
The Bali weather is almost always perfect. The sunsets, breathtaking. And the food to die for (just ensure you're eating at reputable places so as not to get a stomach bug). I could stay there for months at a time.
As I started holidaying as an adult, I began to notice the amazing skills so many of them have and the fact they're artisans in their trades. If you've ever stopped and watched a Silversmith at work, you'll not notice the minutes tick by as they intricately mould the silver into tiny works of art.
When I decided to pursue Anchor & Willow, much of what I wanted to sell would come from Bali. And I would source it firsthand, ensuring I knew the makers and paid them for their hard work rather then the middle man.
Last time I was there, we hired a lovely man to drive us around the island. Chatting to him when he picked us up from the airport, we found out that his family in the villages close to Mount Agung, hand weave the rattan bags we wanted to sell. Arranging a day he was rostered off from his normal job, he drove us up into the hills to pick our current collection of rattan bags and also the one off silver pieces we sell at our markets. We've now hired him to source our leather, fashion and be our translator and contact for the stock we already sell.
On average, he earns around $300 a month in his current job not including tips from holiday makers. By creating this working relationship with him, we are now able to provide him extra income to his ever growing family. He is essentially a major part of our Anchor & Willow family.
There are many people who do not like Bali. I cannot understand how that could be. But I will love the tiny island, until the day I die.