At a MAKE IT Calgary a couple of years ago, I found a pair of yellow-green (I call this colour ‘grellow’) harem pants which have become a staple of my market wardrobe. They are one of the most comfortable pieces I own.
These harem pants were designed by Blake Ward. His company SEED is pretty awesome, and is a must-know ethical retailer in Canada. Everything in their collection is made locally (in Calgary, Alberta) using natural fibers – principally hemp and organic cotton. His portfolio of pants and tops are also very stylish and ridiculously comfortable.
“Our mission is to cause chills down your spine every morning that you walk into the closet, and pull Seed over your body. We exist to ignite human souls through clothing that jumps off the radar with fit and comfort brilliance.”
- From their about page.
To be completely upfront… I didn’t buy these pants immediately after seeing them. They’re a bit of an investment, and I was in Calgary representing Devi when I meandered past his booth during a break in the day. I only touched them, tried them on, and then walked away. That night – this is true – the pants showed up in my dreams. For the rest of the show, I couldn’t stop thinking of them.
On the last day of MAKE IT, I bought them (part of me now wishes that I’d bought the darker colour, because it’s quite noticeable when you’re wearing bright yellow every day).
Maybe this sort of obsession could only happen to a fellow artisan… but maybe not. They really are that comfortable. Visit me at one of my summer markets, and you’ll probably see me wearing them. If you’re curious and polite about it, I might even let you touch them.
SEED is travelling to all the different Wanderlust Festivals this summer. Check out their schedule to find out which ones. You can order from them online as well.
Kerala is one of the most beautiful states in India, and I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been there twice now, and I’d like to share some stories with you. A couple of weeks ago, I shared a summary of what I love about Kerala as a whole. Now, I’d like to dive into some of this states’ most extraordinary cities, starting with Kochi (or Cochin).
Known informally as the Gateway to Kerala, Kochi is located in the South-West of India and is Kerala’s commercial capital. That makes it sound like a hectic place, but it’s not. Kochi actually invites a very moderate pace of life. It’s a vibrant beach town, with much cooler temperatures than you’ll find in the North of India. Its population is also significantly less dense.
There are so many different things you could get up to in Kochi. In the same day, you could visit the 400-year-old Paradesi Synagogue, observe the maneuvering of giant fishing nets from China (it takes 4 men to control them), and visit the Kathkali Dance Theatre (Kochi is the centre for Keralan arts).
The first time I travelled to Kochi, I was with my friend. It was 2009. We stopped there on our way to a nearby ashram to replenish our energy (I had been feeling a little sick). Even though I wasn’t at my best, I couldn’t resist doing the quintessential tourist activities. We booked a backwater tour through our hotel, and were guided through the city. We travelled along a spice farm (where locals were growing pepper corn, nutmeg and cloves) and watched jute (a strong, eco-friendly, piece of string made from vegetable fibre) being spun.
We also stopped to have some South Indian food, which I hadn’t experienced much of before. We tasted dosa, chutneys and coconut curry. The flavours were fresh and clean feeling, but with a lot of kick. It’s up there with some of my favourite cuisines.
The second time around, in 2014, I travelled to Kochi with my husband. We were arriving from Jaipur – which was extremely hot. We were in India in the middle of the summer, and my husband is a winter baby… he’s not so good with the heat. I kept telling him “just wait until we get to Kerala!” He wasn’t convinced there was anything to what I was saying, until we got there.
We ended up staying with my boss’s family – his sister and her husband. During the day, she worked for a college that was run by nuns (in the building, they showcase traditional Indian artistry), so we hung out on our own and explored. In the evenings, we reconnected over food.
Some of my favourite memories from this second visit was spending a day exploring Fort Kochi, and making friends with an Indian and Swiss German woman who were out having lunch. They ended up inviting us to have lunch with them the next day (a home cooked meal at the Swiss German woman’s home).
It’s funny… no matter how prepared you are with your list of places you ‘must see’ while travelling, the people you meet will always catch you off guard. I wish you could plan for that, but fortunately/unfortunately, that’s something that will always involve ‘winging it’.
Check out this cool tourism video to learn more about Kochi.
Next month, I’ll be sharing some stories and travel tips about the beautiful city of Varkala. Follow us on Instagram if you want to know when that post goes live.
In many of my pieces, you’ll likely find a beautiful, ethically-cut gem stone or two. Sometimes they’re the centre piece – the focal point the entire design is built around. Other times, they’re an accentuating feature, and make the rest of the detail work really shine.
I’d like to share three of my favourite gem stones with you.
1. Rose Quartz
This is a stone of love. Most people are familiar with rose quartz, but its familiarity doesn’t make it any less valuable. I’ve actually slept with them under my bed for longer than I can remember. Rose Quartz is known for supporting self-love, friendship, healing of the psyche, romantic love, and for the cultivation of inner peace.
I use this stone in my Solitaire Necklace and my Stacking Rings.
This bluish purple stone opens up the third eye chakra, and strengthens your intuitive powers. In other words, it helps you to listen to your gut – something that is especially helpful (speaking from experience) when you’re travelling.
I use a raw version of this stone in my Rough Gem Ring in Silver Collection.
This gorgeous stone has a cool grey-blue tone. It’s popular in the fashion world right now because of it’s unique hue. Labradorite is known as the stone of transformation. It’s a good companion during times of change.
Fittingly, I use this stone in my Solitaire Necklace.
To browse some of these pieces in person, visit me at one of my summer markets. You can find my market schedule by clicking here.
I am a huge fan of solo travel. Even when travelling with friends and family, I often enjoy veering off and doing my own thing. Travelling can provide a rare opportunity for self reflection – one that can be more difficult to embrace when I’m home and in the midst of my routine.
Yet, there are dangers in travelling by yourself, especially as a woman. I’ve heard the horror stories. You probably have too. Stories about public masturbation, being followed, harassment, and rape. It’s important that we share these stories with one another, and that we make ourselves aware of the potential dangers which do exist. But I’m also interested in learning what I can do to be a safe traveller.
What can I do to protect myself?
This aggregation of advice has been gathered from my experiences travelling through India and Bali. It also includes advice from women I’ve met on the road. I hope you find it helpful.
A FEW THINGS I ALWAYS TAKE WITH ME
In my travel day-bag, you will always find:
TRAINS, TRANSPORTATION, AND GETTING THERE
Try to book at least 3 to 4 classes up from the lowest class on the train (this is specific to India). In the lowest classes, you’ll find mostly single men travellers. There are more families in the higher classes.
You might also be to find a ladies-only train to your destination – this is a relatively new initiative put in place throughout India to help protect the women in their community.
If you’re travelling on an overnight train, secure yourself the top bunk.
If you’re travelling alone and can afford to fly the long distances between destinations, I’d spend the extra bit of money and do that. Sometimes it’s just worth it. Save the scenic route for when you’re with friends.
Buddy up with other travellers. Especially when on public transport, see if you can scope fellow tourists out and say hi. Use your intuition here, but if you can make a quick friend to sit beside during a long commute, it’ll make you feel more comfortable.
Most airports have certified cabs stationed at their exit (with an accompanying booth inside to give you more information). These cabs have fixed fairs for different distances, so you don’t need to worry about haggling or negotiating for a fair price. Their drivers are also government approved. If you happen to be arriving in the evening (or anytime after the sun has gone down), this is the ideal choice.
Book your arrival destination in advance. I haven’t always done this. The first time I went to India, my friend and I walked door-to-door looking for the best deal. This can be fun, but not after a long day of travel. And definitely not at night. Use resources like Wikitravel or a Guidebook to find a budget-friendly and reputable accommodation. Even if you’re planning on hopping around to different guest houses/hotels during your trip, get your sleeping arrangements for day one figured out before you get there.
Try to avoid arriving in a new city in the evening. Do what you can to find a train or plane which will get you there in the morning or afternoon.
Google maps has a great feature where you can upload a map and use it offline. Since G.P.S will help you to identify were you are without using data or Wi-Fi, this is an indispensable tool for navigating a new (or even familiar) city.
Having a pay-as-you-go data plan is also a great idea, and you can find some really great deals to support you.
Look out for is scams. Which scams are predominant in that area or Country? You can actually do some research and find this information out. Scams around tourism (people pretending to hold positions, and to have access to opportunities which they don’t) and entertainment (fake tickets) are common.
Be culturally aware. Observe how local woman from the Country you’re visiting carry themselves physically, how they interact with other people, and what they’re wearing. Do your best to mimic them, so that you don’t draw too much attention to yourself. You might not understand why you should have to do this, or why the women who live there do, but see if you can draw from the experience some gratitude for the ability you may have to express yourself freely in whatever way you choose.
SO… WHY TRAVEL ALONE?
Because travelling is still such a gift. If you have the opportunity to travel, I think you should; however, in the build up leading up to the trip, don’t forget to do your research. When you’re there, be cognizant of following your intuition and staying prepared. You should feel empowered by your ability to do what you need to, to feel safe.
One of the greatest gifts travelling has personally given me, is the self-assurance that I can rely on myself and think on my feet. To think fast on your feet, you need a knowledge-base that’s already been cultivated to draw from. I hope some of these tips have been helpful for that purpose.
Do you have any tips for women travelling alone?
Please share them in the comments below.
I’d like my community – followers, artisans, fashionistas, and peers in the pursuit of living an ethical lifestyle – to know a little bit about who I am. That’s why I asked one of my team members to come up with a list of questions to ask me about my life. I started getting vulnerability-regret immediately. We’re doing this anyway.
Her question was:
Are you happy, and what does happiness mean to you?
My answer is this:
Yes, I am very happy. I believe that my general demeanour as a person has always been happy.
My parents are immigrants. They both escaped a communist regime and civil war in Ethiopia (they have some very interesting stories related to this) to end up in Swaziland, where my brother and I were eventually born. Before that, their lives were pretty cushy. They’re both well-educated and had been doing really well for themselves. When we all eventually moved to Canada, they had to start from scratch. They had to rebuild their entire life.
My parents are two very grateful people. That is as true now as it was when I was growing up. They are grateful to be alive; to have survived when many that they knew and loved did not.
I have this unique perspective in my life – the perspective of knowing that there are many varieties of struggle. My husband and I have worked hard to be where we are today, but we do come from a place of privilege; of having grown up (mostly) in Canada with the option of following our passions. There are many circumstances whose reality in my life would have made the Devi Arts Collective an impossible choice. Designing and making jewellery, and collaborating with female artisans around the world might easily have been an option not worth considering. And so, I am immensely grateful.
This is how I define happiness: a full heart, an abundance of belly laughs, a belief in the goodness in the world, and the personal permission to feel things.
How would you answer this question?
I want to share a little bit about a peaceful, luscious, and very green part of India that you might not have heard about before. Kerala still has all the hustle and bustle of the northern states, but it’s not the same. It’s one of my favourite spots, and I’ve been all over.
The first time I was in India, my friends and I travelled from Goa to Kerala. I was pretty sick during our trip over. I’d been hospitalized twice due to salmonella (it was unpleasant, to say the least), and I was ready to relax and be healthy again. I wanted to treat my body as well as I could. I’d been recommended to visit the Sivananda Ashram by a few different people, and so we were on our way there. The Ashram was inland with a beautiful lake nearby. I realized that I really wanted to come back.
When my husband and I visited India together several years later, I couldn’t wait to take him to Kerala. Chris wasn’t feeling very comfortable with the hustle and bustle of the larger cities (especially when combined with the heat). He was getting a bit overwhelmed, but I kept telling him “wait until we get to the South; just wait.” The moment we landed in Cochin,Kerala, he understood immediately what I had meant.
We went to Varkala, Kerala – a popular beach town where a lot of travellers stop. I have a few travelling friends who go to India every year, and Varkala is one of the places they go to and actually live. Some of them, for two months out of the year… every year. It’s that kind of place.
If you’re interested in travelling to India, a visit to Kerala is a great way of getting your feet wet. Even though it’s still a big city, it’s easy to find tranquility there, and nature feels sort of universal to me.
Kerala also has an incredible history. It has one of the highest literacy rates in all of India at almost 94%. Their tourism department promotes their state as ‘God’s own Country’. It also has a booming agriculture industry, supplying 95% of India’s rubber, 35% of their coconut, and almost 100% of their lemon grass oil (you can find some more interesting facts about them here if you’re interested.
It’s just beautiful, and there are many different experiences you can have there. Varkala has beautiful hillsides, cliffs, beaches, and forests. You can go on safaris and see elephants. And the food… lots of coconut and fresh flavours. Chutneys. I just ate it all up. If you’re planning a trip to India, this is a place I recommend that all of my friends go.
Five years ago, I began working on a piece that has become a prominent feature of the Devi collection. This feature is about my birch bark jewellery .
Here’s the story: after graduating from university, I started working for a non-for-profit. Outside of my office, there were some beautiful peeling birch bark trees. I looked at them every day. Inspiration hit. I thought: how cool would it be to incorporate this beauty into a piece of jewellery?
I collected some of that peeling birch bark, and then went to an art store to buy some adhesive options. I wanted to try and meld the birch bark with either copper or brass. Nothing really worked at first. I had this image in my head, and my first attempts didn’t even come close. It didn’t settle right. When I wore my prototypes, the copper would change colour, the birch bark would peel or sometimes bubble… it looked terrible.
I kept working at it. It took me almost a year until I finally got it right. So far, this is one of my favourite creative accomplishments.
I’ve been making birch bark necklaces and bracelets for the last 4 years now. My style as an artist has changed dramatically in that time, but this is one of the pieces that I’ve kept.
This signature piece is now being expanded into a beautiful collection. If you’re in the Vancouver area, come visit me at one of my summer markets and I’ll tell you more. I also get a kick out of seeing the reactions that this piece gets. That’s birch bark? Yes, it is. Real birch bark. Some think it’s weird. Others love it.
What do you think?
At a train station in Delhi, Chris and I were waiting for a train to take us to Jaipur. A couple of days before this, I had picked up a phrase book to help me learn Hindi.
It was supposed to be a quick train ride (maybe 3 hours) but there was delay, after delay, after delay. Not too far from us, we saw an older woman standing next to a young man – I later learned that this was her son. I saw him help her onto the train and say goodbye. We took our seats, and this older woman ended up sitting in the seat across from us.
She was really friendly, and wanted to interact. She wanted to know if we were married, and what we were doing in India. I found that many of the people we met there were fascinated by Chris and I, because we’re an interracial couple. I started flipping through my phrase book to answer her questions, and to ask her my own questions. The people sitting on the train around us were very kind and helpful. They didn’t know Chris, myself, or the woman, but they helped guide us through the details – filling in the gaps.
I found out that she lives with the son who dropped her off at the train station, and that she was on her way to Jaipur to visit another one of her sons – she has 3 in total. Family is really important in India, and she asked us about our family situation. Whether we have any kids (we don’t) and what we each did for work.
I think the interaction was pretty amusing for the people around us to watch – these two foreigners flipping through a phrase to have a full out conversation with someone. I, at least, remember it often. It was really fun.
When it comes to learning other languages, I really enjoy fumbling my way through at first and I’m not afraid to make mistakes. I have no qualms about terrible grammar or syntax. If I’m not using exactly the right word, I hope that I’ll be corrected. I’m more concerned with getting my point across to the best of my ability.
Have you ever used a phrase book while travelling? I’d love to hear your stories.
Summer Festival Season is finally here!
From now until October, you’ll be able to find the Devi Arts Collective at 5 different markets in
the Vancouver, Whistler, and Harrison area.
This is an exciting time for Devi for a few different reasons. Right now I’m in the process of
expanding on some of our best selling pieces, to create beautiful collections. For example, our
memorable orbit ring will be expanded to include a matching bracelet and necklace. Some collections you can look forward to coming up are:
- The Orbit Collection
- The Celestial Collection
- and the *Raw Stone Collection
Okay… so I’m not completely sold on the name for this last collection, which is why I’m having a
contest. Choose a title for the collection that wins me over, and you’ll get a 10% discount off a
Devi product. More details will be in this month’s newsletter, so make sure you subscribe through our website.
One last piece of exciting news. There will be a discount at these summer markets for any of
my blog readers. This is a verbal coupon, and the word you need to know is:
You can also use that as a hashtag to share your Sevi products with your friends and family on
Here is the summer schedule. I’m looking forward to meeting you!
SUMMER MARKET SCHEDULE
GRANVILLE ISLAND FARMERS MARKET
1680 Johnston Street
Thursday, June 29
Thursday, July 13 and 27
Thursday, August 10, 24, and 31
Thursday, September 14 and 21
10am to 3pm
NORTH SHORE GREEN FRIDAY NIGHT MARKET
15 Wallace Mews Rd
North Vancouver, BC
Friday, June 23 and 30
Friday, July 7, 21, and 28
Friday, August 4, 18, and 25 th
Friday, September 8, 15, 22, 29
5 to 10pm
WHISTER FARMERS MARKET
Upper Village Promenade
Wednesday, July 5, 12, 19, and 26
from 2pm to 7pm
Wednesday, August 2, 9, 16, 3, and 30
from 2pm to 7pm
Esplanade Avenue, Harrison Hot Springs BC
Friday, July 14 th
from 12:00pm – 7:00pm
to Saturday, July 15 th
from 11:00am – 6:00pm
UBC FARMERS MARKET
Where: UBC Farms
Saturday, July 22
Saturday, September 9 and 23
Saturday, October 28
9am to 1pm
As a caveat to this post, I’ll share that – unlike a friend of mine, who travels exclusively on her own – I have only travelled with others, but I’m sharing my thoughts on ‘solo travel’ because the time I spent in Indonesia and India taught me many lessons in solitude, and about the value of solitary time spent in reflection. I identify as an extrovert, so these were break through realizations for me.
My first experience as a world traveller took place after university. I went to India for ___
months. In the university atmosphere, you have many responsibilities, but most of them belong exclusively to the academic world. There’s a structure and a surety around where you’re going.
All of this ends after graduation. Outside of academia, there are infinite responsibilities. It’s really up to you where you go. During this time in my life, I didn’t like spending time alone. I always made plans. I loved being social, and was constantly in the company of friends. It’s one of the things I’m very grateful for: the huge network of support I had (and continue to have) around me; friends, co-workers, and family members who love and believe in me.
But I did not have that same quality of love and support for myself. In my internal dialogues, these qualities were lacking. So travelling is what first gave me the opportunity to listen to who I am, and what I actually wanted. It gave me the space to question my values and ways of behaving in the world.
This change became apparent when I was with friends. One of the friends I was travelling with was more extraverted (like me). We used to sit in one another’s company and talk, talk, talk.
But at some point during our trip to India, I remember that I stopped talking. She turned to me, and asked me if I was mad? “Are you okay?” I was fine, but I was learning how to sit in silence. I was realizing that there were many different actions available to me in any conversation. I said to her, “I think it’s okay to be silent.” I wanted to learn to enjoy those moments and to take them in, in a different way. The novelty of travelling allows for these types of changes.
During this time, I also began the process of learning how to rely on myself and how to trust my impulses – even when my impulse was to be quiet. To draw back. To listen. If I acted differently, the results of my actions would also be different. I learned how to trust that everything would be okay, and that I was capable of taking care of myself.
I’ve continued to prioritize my time alone in the 8+ years since that trip. My husband teases me gently about it, but I take myself out all the time. I go to restaurants with a book, eat, have a drink, and read. I’d have never imagined myself like that when I was in my early 20’s.
Now my thoughts on these benefits could change after having the opportunity to travel truly alone (I don’t know when that will be). Or perhaps not. Regardless, this is what I have to offer at this point in time: that being in a different country gives you a truly precious opportunity to listen, and I encourage you to make space for that – even if you’re with a group of your closest friends, or with a romantic partner.
Next month, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on the cons of travelling alone… especially as a woman. Follow my Facebook and Instagram accounts if you’d like to be notified when that post goes live. You can also subscribe to the Devi Arts Collective mail out by signing up through our website.