We have thought about writing a So Souk blog for a while, but the demands of running a small business and trying to juggle family life always seems to get in the way! But after our trip to India a couple of weeks ago we decided that we just had to share some of our stories with you. We are hoping that by blogging from time to time on things that we love and care about that you might get a tiny bit more insight into what makes our little company tick and where we hope to take it in the future. Please bear with us though as blogging is not a skill that we have tried before and we are hoping to be honest and transparent with you about where are are and where we are going!
So, India. Thrilling, inspiring, colourful and unique - a country that is so rich with heritage and culture. We were so excited to plan our first trip here to search for So Souk treasures and decided to spend the first two days in Delhi acclimatising and getting used to this new culture. In Delhi we stayed in the Leela Palace Hotel. This was a great base for exploring the city - safe and clean and with a few creature comforts to ease us in to this new place! We explored Old Delhi on a tuk-tuk and had some time to visit the beautiful Lodi Gardens and the Dilli Haat market. Tuk-Tuk travel is not the faint-hearted, but you do feel that you are getting a glimpse of real Delhi life in all it's craziness!
Traffic is a real problem in Delhi and you need to allow lots of time to cross the city, particularly in rush hour. We took the Metro one day which was real experience and made for a much shorter trip to Old Delhi than it would have been in a taxi - very cheap and pretty easy to navigate. Lodi Gardens is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city and perfect for a little stroll after lunch to work off that curry!
After 2 days in Delhi we were ready to explore Jaipur and took an internal flight with Indi Go (which apparently are the most reliable of the small domestic airlines). The domestic terminal was pretty busy and of all the parts of our trip I think this was the most stressful! Anti-bac was our constant companion and we were extremely careful with what we ate too - no meat, no dairy, no tap water (or ice) and no salad or fruit - so pretty much veg curry and naan for the week! But hey, we survived and luckily escaped any of the dreaded Delhi belly.
On arrival in Jaipur we headed for our hotel - the Samode Haveli. We were truly blown away by how different Jaipur is from Delhi - such a different vibe. Still hectic, but just in a more chilled out way. The main difference is that the buildings (all pink in colour - hence Jaipur being known as The Pink City), are much more low-rise and so it feels a lot less claustrophobic. The Samode is a traditional Colonial style hotel with beautiful rooms and peaceful gardens - we couldn't have been happier here.
We had 4 days in Jaipur to explore and meet our suppliers and this gave us plenty of time to get a real glimpse of Jaipur life. People seemed much happier than in Delhi and we were greeted with lots more smiles! Although it was 35 degrees we didn't find the heat overwhelming (as the humidity was really low) and we also spent a lot of time inside working on designs.
Our main mission for this trip was to explore some of the beautiful hand blocked fabrics that we knew Jaipur was famous for. We were lucky enough to find two or three suppliers that we could start working with and were overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and work ethic. We took time to explore their working conditions and met some of the lovely artisans that were going to print and stitch our products. We were blown away by the skills of the block printers in Jaipur - an amazing ancient skill that is passed down in families.
Also if you are lucky enough to visit Jaipur do try and make a trip to the beautiful Bar Palladio - a gorgeous spot for an early evening drink - the interior here is hard to beat and the teal colour which adorns the inside was a real inspiration for our new collection.
Our Summer collection is going to be full of some beautiful new quilts, sarongs, kaftans and tablecloths with our new hand blocked designs - such an exciting time for us! Samples were developed for us in record time and we had a free reign to explore colours and patterns. We are so pleased with what we have come up with and can't wait to share them with you. Now just waiting for the shipment to arrive in May!
India really was such an adventure - we did have moments of wondering what we had done - its such a busy, hectic place and can be overwhelming at times. But inspired by the line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel we decided "Everything will be alright in the end, so if its not alright, it not the end!".