Far & Wide Collective + The Marion House Book

A few months back, I had the good fortune to sit across from Hedvig Alexander, founder of Far & Wide Collective, at a dinner hosted by Anthropologie. For seven years, Hedvig worked in Afghanistan in international development. During her time there, she worked with local artisans and crafts people and she saw time and again how they were unable to connect with buyers worldwide who were increasingly wanting and demanding authentic, handmade products in their homes. Sensing a hole in the marketplace, Hedvig created Far & Wide Collective as a way to support individual craft producers through trade. 

The business model is quite simple. Artisans create beautiful, unique products and Far & Wide takes care of getting the items to markets worldwide. The final step in this sustainable system is getting shoppers like you to purchase the product. Over the course of our dinner, it became obvious to me that I had the means to help with this final crucial step.

Honestly, it was a no-brainer. These are the kind of products I want in my home. Each has a direct link back to the hands of the people that made them - each is tied to a face, name and family you are supporting by purchasing these products. This became so evident to me when we were shooting some of the baskets made by the Kasigau weavers out of Kenya. Sewn into the bottom of each basket is a scrap of cardboard signed in ink by the weaver who made it. It doesn't get much more personal.

Together with photographer Sian Richards, I spent a day shooting some of the pieces in both of our homes. 

Today I'm happy to show you the first of those images and tell you a little bit more about the artisans who made them.

Jewellery, Bowl and Trivet

White beaded cuff and Porcupine Naibor earrings - this jewellery is made by Sidai Designs, a non-profit organization that works with Masaai women in Northern Tanzania.

Walnut Kabul Jali Trivet - made by master craftsman, Masoud Abdul Baqi in Afghanistan, this trivet replicates the looks of privacy screens found instead of windows in the old houses of that country. 

Mini charcoal and gold pulp bowls - old magazines are turned into pulp and then moulded into new shapes to create these multi-functional bowls. They are made by Quazi Design a cooperative out of Swaziland, which has been in business since 2009.

Tea Towels, Placemats, and Bowls

Black round placemat - made in Swaziland by Gone Rural, a socially responsible business that works with over 750 rural women. The mat is woven from a naturally durable grass known as lutindzi. It is harvested in January and pulled from the sheath leaving the roots intact to ensure replenishment for the next year. 

White-stitched charcoal bowl - Similar to the mini charcoal and gold pulp bowls pictured above (and featured again here) it is made from old magazines that are turned into pulp by Quazi Design. A white thread is stitched around the bowl in a loose stripe to create graphic interest.

Bloc-stripe hand towels - these are made by Kara Weaves, which partners with local weaving cooperatives throughout Kerala, India. The towels are sold as a set of two and come in a range of colours.

Floor Mat and Basket

Round floor mat - is made in Swaziland by Gone Rural. The rug is woven from a naturally durable grass called lutindzi. The centre bullseye is dyed using certified organic natural dyes. available in 15 different colours.

Wave basket - These skillfully crafted one-of-a-kind baskets are handwoven by men and women in The Baba Tree collective in the town of Bolgatanga, West Ghana. Choosing, splitting and rolling the straw for one wave basket takes one entire day. It takes another day to dye the straw and four to five days to actually weave the basket.

Blanket and Pillow

Blue Otomi Blanket and Yellow Otomi Pillow  - This hand-embroidered blanket and pillow is made by Cooperativa Doni Joy, a group of female artisans in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. The graphic patterns represent floral and animal shapes which are said to be inspired by drawings in nearby caves. 

Hop on over to Far & Wide Collective to see more of their beautiful products. 

Garage Sale

My basement is starting to fill up again! It's time to part with some of my things in order to make room for new pieces. Maybe you have space in your home? First up is this antique chandelier from my bedroom.

Antique Weathered Brass 6-Arm Chandelier

It has a weathered brass finish. The overall look is very muted and matte.  I purchased it at James Dy's Antiques on Queen Street.

Asking price, weathered brass chandelier - SOLD

Multi-armed Black Chandelier

I bought this multi-armed black chandelier from Commute Home about 10 years ago when they first opened. It has 20 arms which each hold an individual bulb. I bought it exactly like this but I suspect at some point it was spray-coated or painted this colour. Shows signs of wear consistent with a vintage product. 

Asking price, multi-armed black chandelier - SOLD

Kilim Floor Pillows

Two kilim floor pillows measuring approximately 20" x 20". I picked up these pillows from my friend Liz when she had her store The Arthur. 

Asking price - - SOLD

Age HiLo Chair

This high chair lasted us through two kids and still looks pretty good. The chair is Canadian-made and is very smartly designed. It has two heights (standard table height + a higher height perfect to slip under most kitchen islands.) It also has a removable tray. We literally used this high chair through all the stages, and moved it between our kitchen island and dining room table as required. The chair is orange and shows some signs of wear but functions perfectly.

Asking price, HiLo Chair - $125

Inke Heliand Pendant Light

I have one of these Inke Heiland pendant lights which I've never used. The pattern is the one pictured above with pale orange and yellow flowers. The light is made using vintage wallpaper and comes with an orange cord and bulb attachment. 

Asking price, Vintage wallpaper pendant light (still in box!), $75

If you're interested in any of these pieces please email me at - emma@themarionhousebook.com. Shipping charges will be extra.




Perfect pairs

Lately, I've been getting the urge to explore.  To visit a new country or city and to be surrounded by it's natural beauty.  I've been drawn to the colours and textures of the ocean as well as the imperfect, earthly elements of my surroundings.  Below are some colour stories that really have me inspired.  Do you have a favourite? - Amy