by Sinead Bernhauser

The Journey to Hot Haveli - Adventures of building a socially-conscious lifestyle store

You could say that the journey started many moons ago, when my friend and I set off on our round-the-world-trip, starting in Mumbai and never fully stopping.

20+ years in the making

I’ll never forget that first experience of India and Asia, when we arrived in the night-time tropical heat that you could literally smell, with nowhere to stay but armed with our Lonely Planet, our sense of adventure and the world at our feet at 22. We grabbed a rickshaw that took us through the huge expanse of slums there then, past smiling faces and roaming dogs, to a nearby dark but open hostel. We made our way next morning on the iconic Indian train, with people covering the roof and every other space, into Bombay as it was still named. Then onwards, into the raft of unique experiences and finds that have drawn me back to India twelve times since then, often staying in beautiful old Havelis - the white-washed homes with fairy-tale-like Moghul arched windows, fabulous views and inspiration. 

Hot Haveli lifestyle store Jodhpur haveli

The leap of faith

Fast forward to now. I've always loved design, individual style, handmade, bohemian things. But there I was, also enjoying a successful career in recruitment that allowed me to meet and help many in their working lives. The catalyst for change came when I recently started to also help my brother with his start-up renewable energy company. I quickly got the taste for striking out and setting up my own business, where I could also make a difference. I made the leap and here I am!

Hot Haveli lifestyle store hawa mahal jaipur

Handmade, artisanal pieces

The new journey starts back in India, where I travel alone this time for 9 weeks, manage to source several socially-conscious suppliers and meet with many skilled artisans, designers and friends who will help me to create Hot Haveli. We work collaboratively, sustaining traditional craft skills, often fusing them with contemporary ideas and uses. The handmade craft skills that we'll be showcasing include hand block-printing, hand tie-dying, handloom weaving and handmade jewellery making - all producing contemporary, high-quality products.

Hot Haveli lifestyle store hand block print carving

Socially-conscious shopping

On the journey, you'll see that I naturally gravitate towards some suppliers providing much-needed work to women in communities I visit. Many women either haven't had the opportunity to work or can't leave their home to work, because of cultural traditions or childcare needs. These suppliers provide decent work for women in their businesses and some can allow the women to work from home, on weaving or other crafts like jewellery and bag making. The women contribute to their family finances, gain more independence and can make sure their children go to school and are educated for all of their futures. The male artisans are producing great work, especially in hand block-printing and handloom weaving and I'll be bringing those craft skills to you too.

Hot Haveli lifestyle store fair trade bags

Incredible India

I'll share more experiences as we continue the start-up journey. As well as the sourcing trips and activities, the crafts and the wonderful collaborators I meet in the process, there'll be stories and photos of the trials and tribulations of travelling in India. I hope to show the beauty and the fun side of the adventure and of India, with festivals like Holi, the breath-taking scenery of Rajasthan and Goa, the amazing people, animals, food, sights and sounds that abound everywhere.

Hot Haveli lifestyle store Holi Jaipur

Hot Haveli launch

I can't wait to launch the Hot Haveli lifestyle store here soon. We'll be bringing authentic handmade, stylish and eclectic homewares, accessories and jewellery into contemporary homes, in an ethically-driven way. Whether you like the Nordic monochrome look, a Moroccan feel, bohemian, vintage, chic or more classic styles, we think you'll find a statement piece, or many, in the collections being hand-crafted now. In the meantime, I'll be sharing sneak peaks here, into the making of some of the products like cushions, bedspreads, jewellery, bags, dhurries and scarves that we'll be bringing to you at Hot Haveli.  

Hot Haveli lifestyle store Udaipur Haveli view

I hope you can join me on the journey, that it sparks some inspiration and that we meet somewhere along the way!

Sinead x                    



Sinead Bernhauser
Sinead Bernhauser

Author



1 Response

Louise Parker
Louise Parker

July 15, 2017

So nice to meet you today in Chalfont. We share a mutual love of India and have had a similar experience but you’ve taken that leap I was never brave enough to do and embark on importing and selling beautiful things! Love the stuff you are selling and the ethics behind them. I will definitely be visiting your stall again someday :)

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