We have a big map of the world in our shop in Hay on Wye and one of our favourite jobs is filling in new suppliers from around the world as another interesting delivery of unusual items arrives. So far this year we have added some amazing new lines to the shop, including:
Cana Flecha jewellery and clutches from Colombia;
Pachacuti Panama hats from Ecuador;
Intricate ceramic skulls from Mexico;
Delightful floating candles from Thailand;
Exclusive soft toys from Argentina.
We are constantly on the look out for new suppliers who have interesting and inspiring stories. If you have a suggestion for a line you'd like to see us stocking, please get in touch - we'd love to hear from you!
We're excited to be stocking some of our favourite pieces of art from Mexico - 'Alebrije' animal figures.
We bought an Alebrije rabbit on a trip to Mexico (at an eye-watering price due to my confusion over the exchange rate!), and displayed it behind the shop counter. We had so may requests to purchase it we decided to import a range to sell.
It's a bit chilly at the moment up at Hay Castle, so don't forget we currently have up to a third off all our knitwear. There may be snow on the way so stay warm out there! We're taking the opportunity during the quieter weeks at the start of the year to look for loads more interesting and unusual items to stock in time for Spring. We've already got some really beautiful new mango wood pieces which we'll have up on the website soon. Also on the way we have...
‘Alebrijes’ are a form of folk art from Oaxaca, Mexico. They are carved and painted by hand, and incorporate fantastical imagery.
Some creatures have removable pieces – the more removable pieces, the more special the creature. Traditionally this would be how you can tell that you have a piece carved by one of the original great carvers.
All of the pieces include exquisite detailed hand-painting and bright colours. We hope you like them!
...more incredible jewellery from Cambodia, as well as more of our ever popular Elephant Cement accessories;
...more stock from our friends in Mexico - rugs, mirrors, and our spooky yet stylish black clay skulls!
...more clothes including a range of womenswear which will be perfect for the summer;
...Nepalese arts and crafts including some incredible copper pieces;
...some kids toys and playthings to keep our younger ethical superheroes contented.
We hope to add all of these items online as soon as we get them. And we'll have more offers and discounts for customers, so if you haven't signed up to our mailing list yet, why not join us? Or if you're more socially minded you can like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/18RabbitShop
It has been such a whirlwind since we got back from Mexico that my plan to update the blog with details of all of our travels has become slightly waylaid. Now that I have five minutes I thought I should let you know about some of the places we visited and where we found the stock we're selling in our new pop up shop in Hay on Wye.
We started off in Xalapa, about four hours east of Mexico City. This was the home for the Hay Festival for a few days, which featured an incredible line up of literary talent, including Jeanette Winterson, Ed Vulliamy and Wole Soyinka. An incredible dry clean for our brains, and a beautiful city which we'd never visited before.
From Xalapa we headed south to Oaxaca. When we had visited previously in 2005 we'd been disappointed - the central square was being renovated, there seemed to be loud tourists everywhere and the whole city had the air of somewhere slightly down at heel. This visit was very different. The air was clear, the people were welcoming, the food was incredible, and crucially we made two very significant contacts. One, a government run co-operative, helped groups of artisans in the surrounding towns to pool their labour and ensured they were paid a fair wage. The second was run more commercially, though still along fairly traded principles, which meant they could help with larger quantities and a clear route to get more stock when we need it. This felt like a great leap forward.
After a quick pit stop in Mexico City we headed south again to Cuernavaca. Having lived here in the past we had a fair idea of where to go and again we managed to make contact with two or three really interesting suppliers.
All in all it was a hugely important trip for us, and one which has allowed us to open our pop up shop with some really enticing products and a truly hand-picked range. Come and see us in Hay on Wye, or sign up to our mailing list to find out when our online store opens.
Starting to get excited now. This time tomorrow we'll be in the air, winging our way towards Mexico City. We've made some great progress over the past couple of weeks, chatting to some of the very helpful people at UKTI Mexico and also doing some research and development here in Hay. We have a few leads to follow up in Oaxaca and Cuernavaca and we're hopeful we might stumble across some more great producers on our travels.
We'll be driving through some of the most amazing scenery in Mexico, visiting the ruins at Monte Alban, the hip sophistication of Oaxaca, and the cosmopolitan allure of downtown Cuernavaca. And we get to see Franz Ferdinand, the Vaccines and New Order!
We should be able to keep the blog updated on our travels, so look out for some photos and more news soon.