The passion for traveling, the desire to make a difference, and contributing to the change of the consumeristic mentality to which we are all addicted in this hemisphere of the world, are just some of the reasons that pushed two Italian girls, Marvi and Alessia, to start a new adventure. So, in 2015 they funded Lost in Samsara.
Not just bags and necklaces but a business that aims to make poor economies flourish by circulating the values and stories of distant places in the world that are sometimes known only as tourist destinations. Fair trade products to change the way we do shopping and think gifts.
Marvi and Alessia tell me where this project comes from:
“For a long time, we felt ‘lost in Samsara’. Around us, we saw habits and attitudes that we did not like. Once you start noticing these things, it feels like you are surrounded by them to the point that what you are actually passionate about seem to be so far away that it almost appear unattainable.
We realized, however, that often those same things are only hidden behind our fears and so, one day, we decided to slowly try to push those fears away. We began to focus again on what we liked and we realized that there are so many wonderful initiatives around us. We found that the world is full of people trying to bring positive change in the community and we decided that we too wanted to contribute ”.
Samsara is a term that comes from Indian religions such as Buddhism and Gigionism, and means “lost in the cycle of life”. This word is often used to indicate a specific doctrine that refers to the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
That’s what Lost in Samsara does, it changes the fate of something negative by transforming it into a positive one with the greater goal of transforming poor economies into virtuous cycles. But where do you get the desire to turn upside down your life with a guaranteed salary at the end of the month to throw yourself into a new adventure just driven by your ethos?
Marvi explains her experience: “When I moved to London I would have liked to work in NGOs but things don’t always go as planned. So, apart from some collaboration as a volunteer for some projects, and my annual trips almost always to faraway destinations where I had the opportunity to get in touch with some small communities with a very poor economy, I spent many years in a routine that no longer reflected my ideals. In 2015, however, upon returning from one of my trips in Nepal where I had bought some small gifts to take to my friends, I had the idea of transforming my passion into something that I could share with the rest of the community. In fact, in my travels, whenever I decided to make purchases, I always tried to buy objects that had a meaning, and whose purchase would contribute to the sustainability of a project linked to a disadvantaged community. We all underestimate the importance of the origin of what surrounds us, we take the objects we use for granted and we do not know that maybe, a simple bookmark can tell an incredible story, the story of the person who made it”.
Although the departure from the European community has somehow changed the political geography of the United Kingdom, London remains a sort of different dimension in itself, and the feeling is always of a city full of opportunities… But is there room for solidarity projects?
Alessia explains to us how London is the right place for her: “London remains a multicultural city and still has a great open-mindedness. There is a lot of space for projects of various kinds and also from an ethical point of view, there are many initiatives that can be found around. However, if it is true that in many places you can find “fair-trade” products, therefore produced ethically, there are still few places dedicated exclusively to these products whose purchases can contribute to important projects. Lost in Samsara was born for this reason.
The pandemic that in the last two years has changed the way we used to live our daily lives, has certainly also contributed to changing the way we shop by increasing online spending rather than making our purchases in the markets around the city. So, popular realities like the Old Spitalfield market have lost important contributions such as Lost in Samsara. Another recent threat small businesses find themself facing is selling abroad in the post-Brexit era, Marvi explains:
“For us, dealing with our customers in person has always been very important, being able to explain where our products come from or simply answer the questions of those who were intrigued by our bags or our necklaces. But as we were faced with something as crazy as this pandemic, we had to change our model by moving most of our sales online and relying on technology to spread our message, our vision, to keep making our customers bring home a piece of a story of small communities perhaps, but full of resources. Brexit then complicated the fluidity of commercial dynamics with a consequent decrease in orders from Europe but despite everything our community continues to grow and it is wonderful to see so much support “.
Lost in Samsara not only sells beautiful ethical products but with its business model, it creates paid employment opportunities for artisans from poor and disadvantaged communities with a huge social impact.
Despite the difficulties of this historical moment that alas sees the transformation of geopolitical realities, Lost in Samsara continues to grow, helping to make micro-economies flourish, and restoring dignity to realities that the media often forget to mention. They remind us that sometimes even a simple act such as buying a gift can have a great impact on the lives of distant communities as well as on the environment.
Talking with Marvi and Alessia two Italians in London who had the courage to build something real just led by their passion, somehow reminded me that despite Brexit and the upheavals of recent years this city can still be generous with those who really want to make their own dreams come true.