"We want to put nature and people at the center of everything we do."
Does this sentiment sound familiar? Sound like something we might say here at Gracious Garlands?
When I read this statement on TerraKlay's website, I had a sense that Manvee, the owner of this beautiful brand, and I were soul-sisters and I couldn't wait to hear her story.
How we got connected in the first place is also a lovely "meet-cute" (name that movie :) it's my favorite!). Heather, a dear and very talented friend of mine from college, is coaching Manvee through Thistle Farms' business mentorship program. As you may or may not know, Thistle Farms is a special organization to us and we donate a portion of our proceed to Thistle Farms.
Heather has followed Gracious Garlands closely over the years. As she noticed us talking more about valuing sustainable and ethical living and business as well as us encouraging you, our readers, to live lives inspired by nature -- she was eager to introduce me to the brand TerraKlay who also shares these values.
TerraKlay is a Chicago-based artisanal lifestyle brand specializing in handmade home goods and decor, connecting traditional beauty with the modern world.
With a formal background in Fine Arts, Manvee worked with folk and tribal artist communities in rural India for over a decade bringing extensive understanding of indigenous arts and crafts. She launched TerraKlay in 2016 by featuring beautiful handmade black clay pottery, a traditional craft of artisan communities of Manipur, India.
A few weeks back, Manvee and I had the pleasure of e-meeting over zoom with Heather. We shared stories and related through our mututal desires for and struggles in building people-centered, equitable businesses...
I found myself wishing Manvee lived across the street... so we could share frequent afternoon chats at our kitchen tables about these dreams, values and hardships.
Obviously, I'm now an avid fan of TerraKlay -- not only because of what they stand for and my adoration for Manvee -- but for their incredibly BEAUTIFUL products. As I've been following along, I saw Manvee mentioning the very important Hindu holiday, Diwali.
In an effort to make Gracious Garlands a space that elevates all people and how they come around the table in every day life as well as with loved ones for special celebrations, I thought it would be so great to interview Manvee and let her share with you more of the story of TerraKlay and the joyous festival of Diwali.
Interview with Manvee Vaid of TerraKlay
1. Why did you start TerraKlay?
I started TerraKlay to stay connected to the country where I was born, India, and to showcase the beautiful handmade culture and tradition of the land. During this journey, I realized that women were the pillars of handmade traditions, and that I had the opportunity to provide more meaningful opportunities for women artisans who have worked in their craft for generations. As well as to give them a seat at the table to shape the future of their craft, their own future, and improve their socioeconomic situation.
2. What values are important to you for TerraKlay to uphold?
We firmly believe that refined living does not have to come at the expense of harming the environment or the people who make the products. We want to prioritize nature and people in everything we do. As a company, we believe in the adage "Buy Better, Buy Less." We strive for more responsible consumerism and want to promote a way of life that values and cherishes the products you buy and keeps them for as long as possible. This can only lead to a more compassionate, intelligent, and beautiful world. We stand by the quality of our product and our inclusive practices.
3. Please tell me about your products and what makes them special.
Oh, where do I begin? TerraKlay products are all handcrafted, from the heart, and blessed in the process. If you listen carefully, you can hear the laughter and chatter of the women who work together to make the product. Small mistakes are the artisan's way of saying, "I'm not perfect, but I'm learning." We use locally sourced raw materials in India, giving rural communities the opportunity to first grow or harvest the raw materials, and then give them to the women artisans who make the goods. Our products support the circular economy and are built to last. TerraKlay collaborates directly with artisan communities, keeping in mind their craft skills, knowledge, and respect for their traditions.
4. How did you get connected with Thistle Farms? How do you currently work with them?
About 6 years ago, I was introduced to Thistle Farms by a friend. To be honest, I didn't know much about the organization or their amazing work. I kept in touch with them over the years, occasionally sharing TerraKlay stories of artisans and our setbacks, and when TerraKlay launched its new line, I was invited to join their Global Partners. It's been a fantastic collaboration. Their support and mentoring has enabled me to succeed in my mission and work as a solopreneur.
5. As a business that celebrates and uplifts the ritual of coming together around the table, I would love for you to share with our community the holiday of Diwali. What is Diwali (pronounced duh·vaa·lee)?
Diwali is a five day celebration of Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs not only in India but all around the world. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. It brings in the New Year.
6. What does Diwali mean to you?
Diwali allows me to stay connected with my roots, my family back home, and my culture. It is also a way for me to pass down traditions to the next generation and help them understand the true meaning of family, and heritage. It's a way for me to honor my friends and the bonds we've formed in this new land.
What traditions do you and your family practice to celebrate this holiday?
The celebration itself is something we all look forward to. Preparing traditional meals and sweets, as well as lighting small candles around the house and praying, are all part of the celebration. It gathers friends and family around the table for laughter and fun, all dressed up in traditional Indian attire.
7. What foods or recipes are typically prepared for a Diwali celebration
We try to recreate traditional sweets and recipes from our childhood. For example, our favorite is Kher (Rice Pudding). Because we all gather in one house, we all make one dish to bring to the table to add variety and flavor from the various food traditions that are celebrated across India.
8. Is there anything else you would like to share about Diwali?
I would like to invite you, Elle, to our celebration. There is always so much love, laughter and joy. It is truly a celebration of LOVE!
Well, Manvee -- there is nothing I would love more. Consider me there!
TerraKlay will definitely be making it to our holiday wish-lists this season! I can't wait to show you more of TerraKlay's products and how I've been using and styling them. Here is a little sneak peek of one of our new Drop-In Bouquets arranged in this fabulous Decorative Vase Planter made of recycled banana fibers...