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I was in Yogyakarta, which is a craft industry hub with my Spanish business partner Carlos (who helps me with the buying), my agent a young guy called Garuda (which is also the name of a magic bird) was excited, he said he'd found a village where fashion bags were been made from locally grown pandan leaf.

We went to see, it was a hot couple of hours drive out of the city into pretty much a kind of rainforest area. Eventually we found the village when we spotted piles of bright coloured bags drying in the sun. We settled on a busy little workshop that seemed to fill a house from veranda and spill on to the road. The owners; a jolly man and wife who seemed delighted to see us and really happy to explain all the production process. The husband was despatched on his scooter came back with freshly cut large aloe vera type leaf. Later we established it was a pandan leaf, fast growing and very versatile.
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In the middle of the veranda/workshop with all the workers beavering away, they showed us how they turned it into beautiful and natural fashion bags.
First the leaf is torn into strips and dried in the sun, this is then woven into a kind of brown paper raffia. When they have big bungles they are dyed with vibrant natural colours and again dried in the sun. We could see the whole process going on around us. Then the tough raffia like material is woven into bags using wooden block moulds to create the shape. The next stage is adding the linings, labels and zips etc, which two girls working on sewing machines were doing as we chatted.
Finally the décor was added - which the husband declared was his job. He told us he liked to work in an evening when it wasn't so hot. A funny guy, as his wife negotiated with us he pulled faces at her to make her laugh, and larked around with the workers. As we spent time modifying designs and selecting colours and décor, he kept rushing off and finding ideas for us This was their first big order they explained, and they were pretty happy about it. Up to now they had been producing bags for an upmarket boutique in Bali, the idea of scaling up a bit excited them. It seemed they could get finance from a local micro bank, whom had funded the sewing machines. We would give them 30% deposit, and the balance after our agent had checked the completed goods. We worked out how much stock they could make over a couple of months, and agreed to buy the full production.
Here is the guy larking around...
Here is Carlos and I (also Garuda taking notes) in the midst of negotiations, as work continues all around.
I was so impressed with the industry and ingenuity of these people. When we left, everyone shook our hands and laughed and took pictures on their mobiles.

So there you have it, I bet David C didn't have as much fun in Indonesia doing business and making friends like we did!
I was there again a few weeks a go, following up. The family now delighted to see me having almost completed their first big order and first order to us. I asked if I could have picture of the family to show you.. next thing they had all disappeared. I'm hanging around wondering what to do, my agent just shrugs his shoulders. The workers in the little workshop are all smiling at me sheepishly, I couldn't just leave, but maybe I'd scared them off.

Then they emerged.. all dressed up and freshly scrubbed. The children just back from School and the Father looking like he was at a wedding, little daughter clutching one of our bags. Actually a very happy lot, but point a camera and all very serous, I couldn't get them to smile. Mum finally understood... I love this photo, can you sell their bags in your business?

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