Remember that lead up to Christmas where you are hunting around for the perfect present for someone you love, yet you don't want to just get anything and you definitely want to make sure it does good for the people and the planet? Well, it was at this time last year that I came across the Marina Vaptzarova.
Marina Vaptzarova create the most intricate and beautiful handmade journals that are the perfect high-quality gift for anyone that journals their thoughts or is about to go traveling and wants to keep a travel journal. From experience of traveling for six months, there is nothing better than keeping a travel journal, trust me days end up blurring into one otherwise and it's a great way to help you remember the beauty you experienced in every day for years to come.
For Marina Vaptzarova, every journal is handmade at every turn - from the creation of the paper and fabric, to every cut, fold, stitch, dye and print. Marina is a brand that I loved from the moment I came across their story, however deep diving further into what they do really made me feel that they have gone above and beyond the rest to ensure that both nature and the people who make the products are looked after in every step of the process.
In order to help you grasp the beauty behind each and every part that makes these handmade journals so beautiful, I'm going to break it down.
The paper is called Daphne paper, and is a sustainable material that is specific to Nepal. It's a paper that has been used in Himalayan societies for centuries to create prayer books, official documents an traditional medicine. It's texture is not only visually appealling but it's unique fibres are long enough to hold exceptional strength and therefore are able to stick to each other without the use of additives. This there makes Daphne paper one of the most sustainable papers in the world.
Daphley, aka vegetal leather
The same Lokta fibres that are used in creating the Daphne papr are also used to create a material named Daphley, otherwise known as vegetal leather. The material combines both luxury with sustainability that ultimately creates a fabric that is comparable to wrinkle leather. Not only is it used for creating the covers of Marina Vaptzarova's travel journals, but it can also be used to create decorative cushion covers and blinds for your home. All paper offcuts are recycled, making the process of creating and recycling their paper completely closed loop.
Allo, aka thread
Nettle fibers grow in abundance in the Himalayan hills and can reach up to 3m in height. It's an ancestral tradition to weave these fibers into a thread, ropes and weaving for clothes and bags.
Hemp is one of the most sustainable plants we have on the planet, as it grows and regenerates rapidly without any fertilisers. If you want to learn more about hemp, and other fabrics ranked on sustainability you can read the article I wrote about them on Mind Body Green here. The hemp fibres are woven into cloth and can also be used to make paper as it's renowned for its solidity, insulating capacities and resistance.
Brass & Silver:
Some of the journals from the collection have a brass or silver clasp that hold the journal together. Just like all other parts of Marina, these clasps aren't mass manufactured. Instead, they are created by The Newars, the native artisans of the valley of Kathmandu. The Newars are responsible for some of the most creative art found in the Nepalese tradition.
If it's not clear already, sustainability and slow fashion is truly at the heart of Marina Vaptzarova. Since 1993, Marina has been creating designs with renewable and natural raw materials, so it's only natural for this care for the planet has transcended into the core of her beautiful journals for Marina Vaptzarova. As Marina says, 'respect has always been our key word, whether it is respect for the environment, the artisans or the client'.
More than that, Marina Vaptzarova has been awarded the Butterfly mark which is powered by Positive Luxury. This Butterfly mark is in recognition of their commitment to social and environmental sustainability, you can learn more about the Butterfly mark here.
There's one more thing I want to touch on with this beautiful label, because I feel that they really have ticked all the boxes I look for in a label. It is also the main part that encompasses everything Ethical Made Easy is about. Since 1993, Marina Vaptzrova has been committed to improving working conditions and social benefits for the artisans that create their products.
Without any legal obligation, they have developed and implemented several benefits to their employees, such as health insurance or payment plans for school fees that are entirely at Marina Vaptzarova’s expense. Whenever possible they also offer to work at home, providing additional revenues for those who cannot work outside. To add to this, they also support Nepal's future by donating 1% of it's sales of paper designs to the Nepal Youth Foundation. This foundations is committed to providing freedom, health, shelter and education to Nepal's most impoverished children.
If my love for this beautiful business isn't already incredibly clear, please take a moment and watch this video below. It really helps to show you the story behind Marina Vaptzarova in a way I never could.