‘SHE MADE ME’ takes us inside India
Chloe, was this your first trip to the holy land?
Yes and definitely will not be the last! This trip was part business, part pleasure.
India is such a vast place, how did you curate your own map?
There are so many places I would love to visit in India, the list was so long but we decided it would be best if we picked just one region, so we spent our time in Northern India. I am so happy we did, India is as crazy and chaotic as they say. We flew into New Delhi then travelled to Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur and Varanasi over 3 weeks and we hardly scratched the surface of each of these cities.
In a place renowned for its crazy busy streets and erratic 24/7 nature, how did you find peace amongst all the action?
To be sure we had peace amongst the chaos, I did a lot of research and booked boutique accommodation. It was really nice to have comfortable places to retreat to after long days shoulder to shoulder in the bazaars and hours of stand still traffic. It was nice to take some time out to practice some yoga and we treated ourselves to Ayurvedic massages.
You spend a lot of time OS, how did India compare to other such trips?
Travel with no expectations – everyone that had given me travel advice said nothing will ever prepare you for India. We were pleasantly surprised how friendly the locals were in most places we visited, smiles were exchanged with head wobbles. The food was incredible, we happily ate Dhal and Chapati everyday and drank more Masala Chai than water.
I spent a lot of time sourcing and I like to think of myself as a good negotiator but in India I found that the men in the bazaars didn’t have much respect for a blonde Australian and I left a lot of places thinking ‘I’ll go back for that tomorrow and he’ll give it to me for the half the price’. If you find something you love in India, buy it. Chances are you won’t find anything like it again.
The traffic is insane! Cars, trucks, cows, motorbikes, rickshaws, pushbikes and people, everywhere. You have to go with the flow, somehow it works.
Often when we travel we have an experience that make as come to a stand still in time, a “pinch me” moment. Can you tell us about one you may have felt in India?
The She Made Me logo and branding was inspired by traditional Indian block printing so I arranged to do a block printing workshop in a small town outside of Jaipur called Bagru. This town is blooming with artisans and is well known in the printing community for using plant based organic dyes. On the 2nd day of the workshop while waiting for our fabric to dry in the sun, we were taken into the village to meet the artisans who carve the wooden blocks. I sat on the side of the street, quickly sketched the She Made Me logo and waited while an carver made it into a wooden printing block. 3 hours and 6 cups of Chai later – it was pretty special.
I notice there are some stunning colours coming through in the next range, do you feel like this trip has influenced or inspired this?
India was so overwhelming – vibrant pink, orange and gold silk saris draped over washing lines strung between buildings, washed back tones of sun bleached walls and intricate hand painted doorways, it was the perfect colour pallet. I have always found myself drawing inspiration from India but there are a lot of design elements in my new collections that have been made possible now that I have experienced the processes first hand.
This country is alive, the food, the smells, the people. Where did you stay and how did you spend most of your days there?
In Jaipur we stayed at a retreat outside of the city, on a sustainable, solar powered farm. All of the meals were prepared for us using organic vegetables and grains grown on the property. We were greeted with steamy cups of Masala Chai and head wobbles from the lovely couple that owned the property. Our room was filled with antique furniture sourced from all over Rajasthan and instantly it felt like a little home away from home. Most days in Jaipur were sent textile sourcing, then sunsets on the rooftop terrace out at the retreat. We were a 40 minute drive to the city and the bazaars – close enough but far enough away.
In Udaipur we stayed in a small hotel right in the middle of the city, overlooking Lake Pichola. If you stay in a city in India I would recommend requesting a room towards the top of the building as the streets are incredibly noisy. We spent a day on foot wondering around the city and through the bazaars, then hired a Royal Enfield and rode through the villages and the countryside for a few more days.
Varanasi was very spiritual but completely over run by tourism, were were hassled and it drove us crazy. It wasn’t my favourite place but I am glad to have experienced it.
I absolutely loved Pushkar. It’s a smaller city on a holy lake surrounded by mountains with bohemian vibes.
If you were to go back, would you do anything differently? Any travelling tips for those planning for exotic India?
India was life changing and I will definitely go back. Being our first time, we found ourselves on the tourist trail more then we would have liked too. I think it is important to give yourself some time to adjust because it is so confronting. Be conservative to respect their culture. Embrace their inquisitive nature. India is so vast, take your time to explore.
If you are get to discover Chloe’s beautiful range of handmade crochet suits CLICK HERE and fall in love x