For Sasibai Kimis, it was a kind of journey that took an investment banker around the world and a lot of savings to create Earth Heir. Earth Heir is a social business focusing on issues and supporting sustainable communities.
On a cold rainy night in December, I “hulked" out of my parka and charged into the inviting, cozy doors of Le Pain Quotidian and met Sasibai. Our conversation was immediately ignited over stories and experiences in what we soon discovered to be a tale of two cities and our mutual love for New York and Malaysia--I could remember Merdeka Square like it was yesterday!
Saisibai’s story begins after leaving New York City in 2001 and moving to London to work for a wealth investment company, Khazanah Nasionala. She decided to pack her bags one day and return to her roots in Malaysia in 2009: "I gave it all up and wanted to do something meaningful, something I cared about. " She traded her computer for face to face interaction, paper documents for beautifully hand-woven silk, and her clients for local weavers and artisans. Along the way, she has built relationships with families living in small communities that even Google maps would have a difficult time finding.
Since February of 2013, Sasibai has been living in Kuala Lumpur where Earth Heir was born. Whether it's been tuk-tuking to remote communities or facing dangerous crossroads, the journey has been arduous but "equally rewarding."
After handling the scarves and hearing the stories behind them, I was inspired and left with stitches of ideas on how I would style them. Every individual scarf is unique and has undergone it's own journey. One silk scarf took two months to make, covered with intricate lace details that had me dreaming of my future wedding dress. Another scarf was bought from a man in Cambodia who hand dyed the beautiful cloth himself with interesting hues of orange, pink and yellow and a imprint that seemed to mirror the diversity and beauty of the Cambodian people. One scarf was even hand-woven from excess silk by a woman who owns a loom located underneath her home.
The scarves are bought with fair wage and "cuts the middle man out," which helps to keep consumers aware of where and from whom the items are being bought.
Before we bid farewell, after asking Sasi what kind of advice she would give others about social entrepreneurship, her wisdom speaks, "You can't cast your net too wide and help everyone because then you lose track of what you're doing. I do my small part and I'm still on that journey."
Until next time..