How We Got Here
GARUDA Organic Jewelry
fair-trade & earth-friendly
organic, silver & wood jewelry
organic body jewelry
organic necklaces & amulets
GARUDA: a phoenix-like animal of mythic strength, the guardian of the Water of Life, famous in South-East Asian philosophy. Garuda is a warrior, a protector, and a chariot of the gods. You can find Garuda in the sacred Buddhist and Hindu statuary in many temples, palaces and shines dedicated to the spirits of the earth and the ancestral heros.
Why did we choose "GARUDA"?
In 2001, when I was first starting GARUDA Organic Jewelry, I was faced with a great deal of strife and struggle, and was trying to piece together all the details of a new and socially responsible business while reclaiming parts of my spirit that were lost ....
Dealing with the irresponsible and immoral practices of importers, producers of hand-crafted items and business people left me with a sense of despair at the shape of the world. I had almost every kind of encounter possible with people who were ruled by only the dollar and had no remorse or consciousness about laying waste to anything that lay between them and more money. No one seemed to consider the needs of the highly skilled crafts people who were producing their goods, or that they were even human for that matter. Very few considered where the materials came from or how they were obtained and what impact that has on the planet and life as we know it. It seemed the whole world around me was about getting things cheap, fast, and now and then turning around to sell it for as much as possible with zero liability to the society from where it came. I was very discouraged and disheartened when I began to see all this....
After a much needed spiritual awakening brought on by bountiful internal struggle and contemplation, I rose like a Phoenix, and in while South-East Asia, the closest animal to it, the Garuda, came to me in my dreams night after night, bringing me solace and strength. It was a gift from the spirits of the island, I accepted it with great reverence, and realized it IS possible to operate a business in a morally and socially just manner while still maintaining responsibility to our mother, the Earth.
The energy of Garuda is forever enshrined in GARUDA Organic Jewelry policy and practices. We strive to produce and maintain a socially just atmosphere in all of our actions, from the sources of our materials to the practices in our production and all other steps on the way to deliver this fine Silver & Organic Jewelry to you. Life and Living is our first consideration from our material choices to our employment policy.
We hope the energy of life and love invincible comes to you through the love that is put in every step of our business...
A note from Barbara-
Here's a little more about me, GARUDA, what we have been doing, and how we got here.
When i was a child, i was raised on PBS and National Geographic (thanks, Mom!). This filled me with an urge to understand, experience, and travel, and with a great appreciation for art and culture.I wanted nothing more than to see the world and understand what native cultures of other place lived like, ate, believed and felt.
In 1994, when I was 16, I started to travel to see a great deal of live music all over the country (mostly with a guitar player that happened to be one finger short.) This was a truly eye opening experience that certainly changed my life and the way I view the world forever. Like a lot of people on the road I created a way to get by. I sold hemp jewelry at first to make my way, then started making intricate custom peyote stitches (bead work) with stones set in them, that were catering to a more personal scene...
As the world around me and my own person went through some major transitions, I lost my interest in the kind of travel and lifestyle i was living, and after some patching of my bones, went to college. I studied sculpture, silversmithing and life drawing in college, and was seldom seen outside the studio. This gave me a foundation to understand the details of design and craftsmanship, and to help me better communicate my ideas as well as be sympathetic to the needs of the craftspeople. In 2001, while in school, I made my first journeys outside of the US and discovered a place that was rich in culture and spirit, and had a large population of very skilled craftspeople. I fell in love with the place, and have returned at least once a year every year since. From the beginning I purchased only handmade goods and sold them just to shops and friends to cover my travel expenses.
I began to miss my previous existence and lifestyle a bit, and at the same time found festivals to be a great outlet for both my spirit and my product. In the fall of 2003 GARUDA did it's first festival in it's new incarnation, and has since not stopped, feeling the spirit of all the beautiful people there and the strong sense of tribe drawing us back constantly. From this platform I started the website, using the festivals as a vehicle to promote the constant presence on the web. It seems to have been a good idea.
In Asia, specifically Indonesia, I work with as many as 18 craftspeople, all of whom come from traditional families. What I mean by that is that they are not westernized, and follow the traditions of their culture. What's the culture? Hindu. It is truly amazing and their lives are rich with ceremony and community, and they believe in Karma as a staple of life. Not just Karma of the individual, but of the entire Island. They see that if one person does a wrong deed it will affect everyone around them.
I work with them firsthand, and pay them wages that are more than fair. The villages and families I work with have in essence accepted me as one of their own. In the time that I have been working with these families they have steadily improved their standard of living and level of craftsmanship, as well as skills with English. I love them dearly and miss them often.
We respect all the customs and holy days, and there are a lot of them, so at times it can be complicated and when a big holy time comes work may stop for a week or more at a time. There are at least 6 such large holidays and uncountable smaller ones, which makes for a lot of days off!
Why earrings? I can’t think of a better place to express who you are without words than your ears. They frame your face. Seated on either side of the most expressive part of your body they are powerful and get a great deal of attention, but are not so outspoken as a t-shirt or bumper sticker. Wearing organic materials feels natural and unobtrusive to the energy of your body. The tribal styled designs express a part of our souls deep with history and proclaim a relationship with all that is ancient and unspoken, yet billowing with truths and connections to our tribe. They ask the universe to recognize your soul as sacred and unified. Basically, they give you HUGE Mojo.
As for the materials, check out our material information page on the web site. (add link to materials info) That gives an introduction to what I will say here.
First, I need to explain what we mean by "organic".
We call them organic earrings because they are made of organic materials, carbon based, not metal or stone. Secondly, all the materials are organic by US standards (though not certified) as they are either wild-harvested or raised on small farms. They use no medicine that is not natural, no hormones, or chemicals. As a matter of fact, they don't even have access to such things in most cases.
I am constantly looking for new materials to work with, while still maintaining standards of safety, health and environment. The designs and materials continue to evolve to fulfill the spirit of change and adventure, and I find new inspiration around every corner. I take the opinion and input of every customer into account as i make new designs, choose new materials and make quality standards ever higher.
This is a super small business. Here in the states it is only myself and a part time employee who manages the website. This is truly a grassroots operation, I make the designs (with an exception of a handful classic traditional designs) and work with all the craftspeople, bringing everything into the US, designing my own web site and making up the systems we use, and all of you out there in the virtual world and at those great festivals spread the word about us being here.
All of this comes as some incarnation of all my life's dreams, as I have dreamed of all this before, and did not even realize that I was walking down the path that led to it, but when I ended up here I saw that it was where I had always wished to be.
I am not certain what will come around the next corner, but I am sure that I have more dreams waiting to be both fulfilled and dreamed.
For now, you can only find us at festivals and on the web at
http://www.OrganicEarrings.com, but we are beginning slowly to wholesale, though only a hand full of small shops carry our goods at the moment. ( add link to shops) .
Who knows what will be on the next horizon...
enjoy your exotic nature...
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