Two exciting moves are happening this month: into bigger warehouses in both Yangon (our Kalinko home) and Wales (right by Sophie’s family home). That means two really important things: we can a) house more stock and b) offer more work to our makers in Burma.
So, why grow? There’s a question that should be asked before this, at the very beginning of any journey. Why start? We knew the answer to this and still feel pretty strongly about our purpose six years on. And we guess the answer to ‘why grow?’ is an extension of the first. We started Kalinko because we wanted to help sustain Burma’s artisans and their industries, provide skilled work for talented people, and to fill homes around the world with objects that make a difference.
We’d found ourselves a part of Yangon’s community, fortunate observers of their craft, and we wanted to share that. Not just the colour and the vibrancy and the golden sunsets, but the intricate skill of making. The effortlessness and detail. The beautiful results. A big part of it was sustainability. What did sustainability mean to us, our business and our community? We rejected assumptions that sustainability simply means ‘better materials’ or trying to be carbon negative. Yes, the environmental aspect is huge. But sustainability means being socially responsible, too.
Our main motivation as a company is to ensure that the craft families we work with are best placed, socially and economically, to prosper as the country develops. For us, this means growing Kalinko into a company large enough to support whole communities of suppliers, helping them to preserve their remarkable talents for generations to come and to build sustainable businesses for themselves. Of course we also think through our packaging very carefully, ship by ocean freight rather than air, and minimise excess in all parts of the business, but our main focus is on sustainable futures for our makers.
So to go back to the question: why grow? Firstly, we’re all about slow, sustainable growth. More tortoise than hare. We’re not here opening sites across the world. Our makers are small family groups working on a cottage-industry scale. This means they’re not working in factories, but in their homes. We have no interest in ever growing for the sake of making extra profit.
We’re growing because it feels like the right time. Our version of growth is a few more square metres of storage, so we can house more, high quality products that last for decades, made by talented people whose craft deserves to be recognised. And in turn, we can place more orders with those people.
Of course our community extends to our teams in Yangon and Wales. Our Wales warehouse is managed by two sisters (hi Sharron, hi Tracey!) who have been with us since the very beginning. They live in a little town just a few minutes drive from Sophie’s parents house. It’s the kind of local that we found back in Yangon. All this slow-like-honey growth reminds us of why Kalinko exists: good people and a good purpose. Thank you for being part of it!