Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Collaborations

We've been hard at work with some new people; here are some updates:

Over the next few days, we're doing a limited edition sale with for their Outdoors Pop-up shop, here are some images from the event:
A month back we had done an exclusive event with them, our first ever, and it was amazing to see how well the products were received:
We also did a quick event with their European segment and had a pretty good sell-out event:
 In retail, you can find our new work at MUHS Home, Anthropologie and Calypso St Barth:
The Planet Access Company store in Chicago and the Bear Foods Market in Chelan,WA stock our work, as does the SipSip store on Harbor Islands in the Bahamas and Ecru in Kuwait. 

Few days ago we just shipped out some of our products to the Austin-based retailer Sound and True; looking forward to seeing them here too! 

More updates on our Stockists page and via Facebook; stay tuned!

Friday, May 24, 2013

(Marketing, Activism, Art) v/s the Audience

Yesterday I had the fun opportunity to sit in at a talk by Steve Lambert at the MIT Center for Civic Media, via Denise Cheng. I knew a bit about his work and was looking forward to this discussion on creativity, activism and the public.
He spoke about ways to engage with an audience without alienating them; how providing lots of facts about an issue can more often than not, disempower people and turn them away from engaging with you. On how narrative storytelling was one of the most powerful strategy to draw in audiences and create action.
One of Steve Lambert's most famous pieces was this "edition" of the NY Times.
These questions are something we've often thought about at Kara. I realized that we were intuitively doing some of the things mentioned in the talk. Here's how:

We care a lot about reviving and supporting the talented work of the thorthu weavers; we also care about handwoven fabrics and this long-standing tradition in our community that is quickly disappearing. 

But here's the thing: If I came to you and told you about our cause and how scary it was that this centuries old tradition was going away; you might feel some empathy towards me, but you'd be like "That's awful! But now I've gotta go walk my dog/feed my kids/go to work, etc"

On the other hand, if I came to you with our beautiful textiles and told you about how incredibly practical they are, how fun the design is, and how it is preserving a centuries-old tradition, you'd be like "Yay, I totally want some fun table linens and beach towels!". 
At the beach later, you'd think to yourself: "Oh man, this towel is so amazing! So happy I could help out these ladies with their social cause..." 

See what I just did? Got you to take part in my social cause, but without overwhelming you with the uphill task we face. You're going to need new towels and table napkins at some point; but by getting ours you not only get some stellar stuff, but also contribute you $$ meaningfully.

Its one part capitalism, one part socialism and lots of parts of ethics, love and commitment. That's our simple, un-freaky activism strategy; welcome onboard!
I chatted with Steve Lambert after the talk and the most valuable question he asked was "So say you've achieved this goal of preserving this culture, empowering this community, providing them financial stability and everything else on your list. What's next?!" 

In the past 6 months or so, we've been so caught up with new things that we haven't had time to think about this. Thanks Steve, for jump-starting our brain with this!

I'll now leave you with this amazing poem he read out:

“Utopia lies at the horizon.
When I draw nearer by two steps,
it retreats two steps.
If I proceed ten steps forward, it
swiftly slips ten steps ahead.
No matter how far I go, I can never reach it.
What, then, is the purpose of utopia? 
It is to cause us to advance.”  
-Eduardo Hughes Galeano 

xoxo, Chitra.
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