The thing that drew Julia to Nepal in the first place is the high quality, generations-old artisanal skills that have become underutilised.
“One of the families I work with is of Newari culture from Kathmandu Valley. They have been woodcarvers for generations. Unfortunately, unlike earlier times when artisans were essential, respected and well paid, many Nepalese artisans have had to abandon their craft for better-paying jobs,”
When it comes to living and shopping ethically, Julia says that it’s the awareness that people, as individuals, can make a difference that will drive more people to be more conscious consumers.
She wants people to know that every time you spend your money you are making an active choice. “So choose wisely and choose what you love.”
What do you think separates Woodfolk from everything else out there?
I feel like it’s Woodfolk’s depth and story that separates us from everything else out there. Not only is the customer choosing something that is beautiful, handmade, good quality and unique, they are also directly contributing to a better life for our artisans and their communities in Nepal.
Where do you look for inspiration?
My inspiration comes from nature, authenticity, my travels in third world countries and collaborations with these artisans and their cultures.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t really have a typical day, however, mornings generally start with emails and a smoothie. Days can be filled with getting orders ready and sent; preparing for different design markets and trade shows; liaising with stockists and contacting new stores; developing new ideas to build on the Woodfolk range; photoshoots; all the usual business stuff; lots of cups of tea and the list goes on.
What were some of the initial obstacles you faced when starting Woodfolk?
One of the obstacles I faced in the earlier stages of starting Woodfolk was finding the right people to work with overseas. I could have easily gone somewhere like China, India or Bali to work with a factory, not even needing any face to face contact, however, that defeated the purpose of my business. I wanted to make it more personal and was looking to work with a family or an organisation that I respected. The wonderful thing about Nepalese people is how open they are to helping you. From when I arrived, I found that they always made time to meet me, would always take my request seriously and if they couldn’t help, would provide details of someone that might be able to. I was able to find who I was looking for because of this.