Good Peo­ple

Aimee Kay, founder of Bo­home + Roam

Good - - CONTENTS - Words Natalie Cyra. Pho­tog­ra­phy Zaabre, Home of the Wildlings, Bo­home + Roam

What is your ca­reer back­ground, and how did Bo­home + Roam come to be? I have a masters in psy­chol­ogy and for the last decade, I’ve worked in the cor­rec­tional sys­tem, pro­vid­ing ther­a­peu­tic in­ter­ven­tions to pris­on­ers and of­fend­ers. Bo­home + Roam is a col­li­sion of val­ues that are close to my heart. I love travel, and through­out my ad­ven­tures [my hus­band and I] have been able to con­nect with peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. We’d al­ways see amaz­ing pieces and talk about how cool it would be to bring them back to New Zealand; we were sure there would be a mar­ket for pieces that are hand­crafted, unique and tell a real story. It started fol­low­ing the birth of our daugh­ter, when I had some time away from my full-time job and re­alised I could still be do­ing some­thing with mean­ing. Bo­home + Roam is like the bridge bring­ing amaz­ing ar­ti­san work from those com­mu­ni­ties back home. Have you vis­ited all of the coun­tries you buy from? Most of them. We wanted to be able to give back to the places and com­mu­ni­ties we trav­elled to, and help them ben­e­fit from trade if they don’t have the abil­ity to mar­ket their prod­ucts to the Western world. How did you start form­ing re­la­tion­ships? Re­search­ing and email­ing, Skyp­ing, and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to find things that would fit the look and pur­pose of Bo­home + Roam. That was phase one: mak­ing con­nec­tions with busi­nesses that were ei­ther op­er­at­ing un­der fair trade prin­ci­ples or as­so­ci­ated with the Fair Trade Fed­er­a­tion. Phase two has been about how we can work more di­rectly with ar­ti­sans, and start to cre­ate our own de­signs in col­lab­o­ra­tion with them.

How do the be­spoke de­signs emerge? They are of­ten in­spired by art, home­wares and ac­ces­sories the ar­ti­sans are al­ready mak­ing, but we use our cre­ativ­ity to ad­just it to fit with the New Zealand mar­ket. I do feel like it’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion. It might be a tweak in a colour pal­ette or us­ing a dif­fer­ent de­sign from an­other piece with an­other colour­way. You re­cently trav­elled to In­dia – did you visit some of your ar­ti­san pro­duc­ers? We met with a cou­ple of our cur­rent sup­pli­ers. It’s very in­spir­ing to see fair trade busi­nesses in In­dia be­ing so suc­cess­ful, and con­tin­u­ing to em­power peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly women, in a sus­tain­able way. We also met with some new sup­pli­ers we had been in dis­cus­sions with, an hour north of Jaipur in a vil­lage called Kaladera. We met a woman who, seven years ago through a trade pro­gramme, was do­nated a sewing ma­chine and taken through a course. Now she’s open­ing her own shop and train­ing ap­pren­tices. She’s in­spired the whole vil­lage to ac­tu­ally rise above poverty. How many sup­pli­ers and ar­ti­sans are you work­ing with at the mo­ment? Cur­rently we have 14 sup­pli­ers, from In­dia, Tur­key, Gu­atemala, Peru, Mex­ico, Cam­bo­dia, and dif­fer­ent parts of Africa such as Uganda and Ethiopia. How did the busi­ness name evolve? My style, par­tic­u­larly with in­te­ri­ors, has al­ways been quite eclec­tic and free, and I don’t have a par­tic­u­lar de­sire to fol­low trends. I guess it’s about prod­ucts that tell a story, and I think the bo­hemian vibe has that. My an­ces­tors are from Bo­hemia too. What do the next 12 months look like? I have a lot of ideas. We’ve come so far al­ready in terms of ex­po­sure, and trav­el­ling back to In­dia gets me re­ally ex­cited about where it’s go­ing to go. We’re work­ing closer with the ar­ti­sans now to cre­ate a strong brand. We’ve cre­ated a sus­tain­able men’s leather range, and as I have a tod­dler, I’m of­ten think­ing about prod­ucts for kids. Oh, and we’re also work­ing on travel ac­ces­sories and waste-free prod­ucts. What are the cus­tomer favourites? We just launched our new jew­ellery range from Cam­bo­dia and I’ve al­ready sold out of a few colour­ways, which is re­ally ex­cit­ing. The hand tow­els and nap­kins have been real hits. We’re get­ting bet­ter at choos­ing pieces that are tar­geted for New Zealand but still up­hold­ing the craft. What is your ap­proach to con­scious liv­ing out­side of work? Our fam­ily has moved to­wards re­duc­ing our waste, par­tic­u­larly in terms of plas­tic – we use Kai Car­ri­ers and lids you can cover your pots and sal­ads with, and nap­kins as op­posed to pa­per servi­ettes. We have a worm farm and com­post out the back. I’m try­ing to pre­pare more foods from home as op­posed to buy­ing things in pack­ag­ing. For the most part, I try to source shoes, clothes, fur­ni­ture and other things that are sec­ond­hand or aligned with our ethos. Are there any brands or peo­ple that have in­spired your jour­ney? I’m of­ten see­ing peo­ple who are do­ing amaz­ing things. The sup­pli­ers back in In­dia were re­ally in­spir­ing – do­ing amaz­ing work in chal­leng­ing con­di­tions. In New Zealand, I’ve al­ways been a big fol­lower of Eleanor Ozich. I love lots of colour and her pal­ette is more sim­ple, so she fills a part of me that’s not me. I love her sim­plic­ity in life and how el­e­gant she is in what she does.

Aimee Kay, Bo­home + Roam

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to live by my val­ues ev­ery day. That’s hu­man­ity, equal­ity, pur­pose, mean­ing and travel – I feel as though if I can try and have those things in my life ev­ery day, that brings me joy.”

“It’s very in­spir­ing to see fair trade busi­nesses in In­dia be­ing so suc­cess­ful, and con­tin­u­ing to em­power peo­ple.”

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