Meet The Team

Rahul Kumar copy

RK

The Facilitator

RK fell in love with Vietnam, it’s culture, people and the beautiful craft during his 2015 back packing trip. Bamboo & Silk is a result of months of planning to give Smile house and other such institutions a platform to sell their craft. Bamboo & Silk is an endeavor to take some of the most beautiful handicrafts like the Silk Lanterns and scarves to the world . The aim is to provide the local Vietnamese producers as much control and ownership of the process as possible. The products are therefore manufactured, packed, photographed and shipped using local resources. In the interest of data security and to ensure the best for the customers, the website is hosted and all customer specific data secured in Australia.

In his pursuit to bring this project together, RK has driven everyone mad and he has been named ‘Khung’ meaning crazy or insane in Vietnamese. 

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Ms Hoa Tran

The Manager

Ms Hoa is the Manager on ground zero.  Ms Hoa was born and has lived all her life in Vietnam. She loves her country and the culture and more than anything she loves Bamboo & Silk. Ms Hoa ensures all the orders are understood and processed as per customer expectations. When RK met Hoa in late 2015, she was half crazy…now she has been driven to the last stage of insanity and we think she is enjoying it. 

Ms Hoa’s husband, Mr. Chau Duy Le works for the local government and is also very closely associated with the local artisans and their economic empowerment. Their son Thien Duy Le , nicknamed ‘Pro’ goes to school and is learning English. 

Other aspects of Ms Hoa’s skill and talent include tailoring silk dresses, tours of Hoi An and handmade jewelry.

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Ms Phuc Tuong

The Dream Catcher

Ms. Phuc was leading an absolutely sane life, clicking wedding photographs for almost 20 years. Then in 2016, she met RK and against all her good judgment accepted to click the Silk and Lanterns pictures for bamboo & silk, rest is history

It is a great effort from Ms Phuc and the endless pictures she takes to make it possible for us to show you the real lanterns and products on out website. For all those familiar with product photography, it is actually much more difficult than clicking people.

Ms Phuc aims to create pictures that truly reflect the true nature of the Silk fabric to support our customers in making the right decision.

 

Kinnari and Rahul

Our Story

RK and KK

Bamboo & Silk is a brand of Ethical Existence Pty Ltd fondly nicknamed EE. After 18 years of corporate experience  Kinnari and Rahul wanted to start their own venture with focus on supporting ‘Not for Profit’ and disadvantaged groups by providing business consultancy support, helping make smart processes and improving profitability.

Bamboo & Silk is a unique concept where the order processing, shipping and customer interaction will be managed by the producer partners. EE will support with marketing, website design and inputs to make this business venture viable and successful. The frame work is based on the 5 core principles of EE:

  • Open and honest communication with producer partners
  • Empower disadvantaged producers to take more control of their business
  • Transparent yet competitive pricing model for the benefit of producers and the customers
  • Ensure safe and secure working conditions for the workers on producer partner’s sites
  • Ensure business viability and success through best in class management practices

The age old saying ‘ Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life’ is the core belief held at EE

Ethical existence also manages an online store Sampan selling ethical and eco-friendly gifts and a social document scanning business

The Art

History of  Silk Lanterns

Craft villages of Quang Nam Province are proud symbols of the cultural heritage of the crafts people, their villages and the region. Hoi An is a small town in the province making silk Lanterns. These lanterns came with the Chinese and Japanese who arrived and settled in this trading port in the 16th century. In the past 400 years the art of making and lighting the lanterns have been an integral part of the Hoi An town and the culture of it’s people

Lanterns have been used widely in local houses, shop of the Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese community, becoming a symbol of good luck in this multicultural town

After decades of abandonment due to the war, Hoi An lanterns were recently revived in the 90s by a pioneer artisan, Mr. Huynh Van Ba (insert photo). From his innovative design of a collapsible bamboo frame and silk fabric, Hoi An lanterns today appear in a variety of shapes and materials. There are 32 households which produce and sell lanterns in the town in which Mr. Ba’s workshop is one of the two largest workshops.

New sets of signature heritage lanterns in Hoi An have been developed with the support of UNESCO, Korean Funds in Trust and Quang  Nam Provincial People’s Committee

Smile House: Creating Magical Lanterns

The idea of setting up Smile House occurred nine years ago to Trinh Xuan Vinh, head of the Hoi An Association for Disabled Youth, who himself has a disability. It took Vinh and four other members five years to raise the VND50 million (US$2,400) that was needed.

Smile House opened in January 2010 and now provides employment and support to people with a disability who make handicrafts such as lanterns, embroidery, and bags. Many of its members, who were often rejected by other employers, say their souls have been reborn after coming to Smile House, where they are loved by everybody.

Dan Thi Buu Tram spent most of her life isolated at home, as she suffers from cerebal palsy which affects her co-ordination and severely limited her ability to travel. Tram first learnt to walk when she was six years old but even then was unable to attend school so she never learnt to read or write. Tram has now found her niche at Smile House where she works crafting traditional silk lanterns. She travels to work every day with her new pump action bicycle.

 Silk Lantern: The Skill

The art of lantern making is about 400 years old (link to the art page). The process and the technique have largely remained unchanged over a long period of time. The process is purely skill based with the use of some very basic mechanical aids like wire cutters, pencil drill machines, scissors etc. (some reference picture)

The various parts of the lanterns are made independently and then brought together to give the lantern the desired shape. Picture.

The key part of making the lantern is cutting and drying of bamboo. The length of the bamboo defines the size of the lantern picture

All components of the lanterns are individually prepared by skilled hands and then brought together in the desired shape during assembly picture

As the last step towards making these memorable artifacts is to glue the Silk on the frame. Picture

Each lantern is tested and then packed in plastic sleeves before being posted out to you for your decoration and enjoyment.