I am consistently blown away with the ladies I’ve met through the internet. Actually, now that I think about it, I met the Husband on the internet, so I’m blown away by both the ladies and the man! Now I’m off topic already.
The point is, one of the talented ladies this little space has introduced me to is the lovely Corlie from Red Buffalo Trading.
Corlie lives in Southwestern China and has started a small business selling jewelry, handbags, home goods… basically everything lovely.
I love, love, love unique products, and so her store is totally my ‘thing’. Plus, these items are crazy affordable (but they won’t remain that way for long, as Corlie’s shop is growing and her prices will soon go up as demand is, too!). For so many reasons, I was super-excited at the chance to introduce her to my readers!
As a totally unexpected bonus, Corlie sent me a special gift for Baby B (which just melted my heart), so I was able to see her beautiful products first hand. Just, wow.
Have you ever seen a more precious buffalo?!
Love at first sight.
And then Corlie sent me the story behind her products, and I was even more impressed. I mean, these aren’t goods that could come off the shelf at Target (nothing against Target…). These products have a story and history and are international in every sense of the word.
A gorgeous tote made of textiles from women of the Hmong women in Vietnam is my favorite handbag in the shop, but that’s just me! There are so many other beautiful and unique pieces at the Red Buffalo Trading site, that I really hope you check it out and fall in love as quickly as I did!
Because Corlie can explain her shop much better than I can could, I asked her to tell me a little more about herself and Red Buffalo Trading:
“I have lived in Yunnan province Southwestern China since 2010, and after an initial struggle to adapt to this hugely different culture, I have finally found my feet. For me the greatest difficulty with adapting to life in Southwestern China was that people were so not used to foreigners, and to a certain extent they still are not that used to us. It is not uncommon for me to walk down the street only to startle someone coming towards me into saying “A! Lao Wai!” which means, wow, a foreigner! Needless to say English was not big here four years ago and although things have been progressing with people learning more of the language, it’s still not something you speak to anyone other than college graduates. So I studied Mandarin for two years to make my life a bit easier here. Having done that I was able to start working as an Occupational Therapist, which is what I am trained in, in a free clinic for children with CP from rural villages around Kunming. However, as the clinic is free, I do not earn a salary there and from that, as well as my love for tribal textile art, the idea for Red Buffalo Trading came.
What I do now is I work at the clinic five mornings a week, and then in the afternoons I work on designing handbags using some of the textile art I have found in Yunnan as well as some from Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Yunnan is very close to all these countries, so it is very possible to do a three or four day trip to somewhere to buy textiles. Last week I was in Northern Vietnam for two days buying embroidery from the Red Dao and Black Hmong hill tribes. In November last year I was in Vientiane Laos buying embroidery from the Laos Hmong hill tribes and in December I was in Thailand buying embroidery from the Thai Hmong tribes. The Hmong tribe originated in Southern China, called the Miao tribe here, but they migrated South from the 18th century due to political upheaval and persecutions. Now they are scattered throughout Southern Asia, each with their own strain of embroidery.
The embroidery on the buffalo sent to Lisa is from a skirt of the Hmong tribe found in Northern Thailand and also in Northern Vietnam. The tradition is that a mother must make two of these skirts ( consisting of this traditional yellow and orange cross stitch embroidery as well as indigo batik fabric); one skirt is for the girl to get married in and one is for her to be buried in. The Hmong have noticed the popularity of these textiles with tourists and have started to reuse old garments that are no longer worn to make handbags, wallets or animals like this for the tourist trade. Some of them make swathes of embroidery especially for this trade. “
AND because her store is relatively new, Corlie offered to do a giveaway for my readers! Could my heart have been happier when she told me that?! Nope.
So, Corlie is giving away this bangle from her store to one lucky reader.
The embroidery on the bracelet is handmade from the Miao ethnic minority tribe in Southern Yunnan – the ancestors of the Hmong tribe in Northern Vietnam and Laos – and the stitching is called Ping Xiu. What a freakin’ unique gift, right?!
Make sure you enter this giveaway AND visit her store!
As a special incentive, if you use the promo code ‘two martinis’ at Red Buffalo Trading, you get 20% off your purchase, excluding shipping. But, all shipping is free to the USA for orders over $100.
So go get your shopping on!
And enter this giveaway (obviously).
* Aside from Corlie being a sponsor of Two Martinis, I was not additionally compensated to give a review of any of her products, I just really love her shop and I’m glad I can share it with all of you! However, if you are a business owner interested in having me review your product, let me know!