As mentioned on my last post of Weekend Snapshots, I dropped by L’ Indochine, one of my current favorite shops, last Saturday. I like it there because their items are one of a kind, they are hand made by skilled crafters and artists from all over Asia and the designs, though very ethnic, Indo-Asian in flavor, are also very modern and stylish. It even smells good inside the store!
While I was there, I was lucky to meet Charlene Panutat-Carlos, one of the shop owners, and she was so kind to share with me stories behind some of the pieces they’re selling. She saw me holding one of the colorful handwoven pouches and told me that these were made by the women of the ethnic tribe Hmong in Vietnam where little girls as young as five are taught how to weave and sew. She said that the the intricacy of the design says how fertile the girl who made it is. So the more beautiful and detailed the design, the more fertile the woman is and also the more popular with the men of the tribe. So I bought one of those pouches which I think makes a really beautiful accent to a simple outfit and also an interesting conversation piece. I used it as a clutch the following night to the premiere showing of Alagwa, with a black top, jeans and my turquoise suit jacket. I loved it!
I also got myself a little tray made of strips of bamboo that have been systematically glued together and molded to form rounded trays, coasters and even chairs. Charlene said that this was made by a simple man who lived up in the mountains, where he also keeps a tiny workshop. He is so good at what he does that the princess took notice of his work and commended him. Now he is very well known in his country.
Aside from clothes, bags and accessories, they sell many other things like pillows of different colors, shapes and sizes, quilts, decorative figurines, jars, wooden and laquer trays, glasses, plates, and even stuffed seahorses, which are really cute but sadly, I failed to take a picture of. And because they are specially hand picked and purchased by the owners in their buying trips, most of the items have limited stock. A lot of them sell out shortly after being displayed in the store. Then, you’d have to wait until their next buying trip to get new stock.
I find it amazing that Charlene, together with her co-shop owner Leona Panutat, travel several times a year around Asia to visit these remote areas, where they collaborate with artisans and help them sell these wonderful pieces which hold so much history and tradition. Charlene said it’s a lot of work and it’s hard to have to leave her kids two weeks at a time, but that it’s also a great learning experience and a lot of fun. Some people wait for inspiration to come to them but these women seek it out. As the famous Bible verse says, “Those who seek, find,” and find inspiration, they do. Simply visiting their store and seeing their handpicked items is inspiring.
You can read more about Charlene and Leona’s adventures and precious finds at theinspirationseekers.com and on instagram by following @theinspirationseekers. L’Indochine is located at the 3rd floor of SM Aura, Taguig.