I’m super excited to bring you a roundup of bridesmaid gifts from Lydali, a line of global handmade goods that connects you with artistans in developing countries around the globe. Oh, and it just so happens to be cofounded by my freshmen-year roommate, Ali Price! I’m so happy to see Ali’s business taking off and super impressed with the gorgeous collection she and her business partner (and fellow Wake Forest grad) Lydia Harter have curated. Here are a few of my favorite items, which would all be beautiful (and socially conscious) gifts for brides to give their maids. Ali was also nice enough to share a little about how her business got started, her tips for others hoping to do the same, and even a few special memories from her own wedding. Check out her interview below!
These banana bark and fabric bangles are absolutely stunning and highly stackable. Each bangle is handmade in Tanzania, where women peel the bark from the trees, treat it, then turn it into bangles with the help of colorful locally produced fabrics. $35 for a set of three
These soft cotton clutches handmade in Guatemala make perfect makeup bags or pouches for bridesmaid emergency kits. I particularly love the coral diamond print and the two-tone tassels. $24
I couldn’t resist adding a second set of clutches because they made me think about needlepoint in a new way. I’ve always associated this craft with bygone eras, but seeing it here in modern colors and striking florals (gotta love the pomegranate flower!) made me swoon. The bags come straight to you from a folk art fair in Uzbekistan. $25
I’ve always been a sucker for a leather-bound book and this one is no exception. These 40-page honey-colored journals are made by women in Northern India and the proceeds go to funding literacy in the region. $15
UB: So tell me about starting Lydali! How did you get the idea?
Ali: I was in Bali last year and I started talking to one of my friends who lived in Bali and was working with artisans there. She was employing talented people to make really beautiful jewelry and accessories, but she was having trouble finding a market for their products outside of friends and family. I had experience working with artisans in Kenya, and I knew that my friend’s issue was common—small groups of artisans were making really unique products with great stories behind them, but no one knew about it. I puzzled over that problem for the rest of my time in Indonesia, and then when I was on the 16-hour flight back to San Francisco, I came up with the idea for a store that housed a well-curated collection of artisan-made products from all over the world. Back in San Francisco, I talked to my buyer friend Lydia Harter about it, and she immediately signed on. A few months later, we launched Lydali.
UB: Can you tell me about how you track down these amazing artisans?
Ali: We have a couple of different ways of connecting with artisans, but most of the connections happen through friends and friends of friends. One of my favorite connections came from having my family friend, Jay, and his wife, Diana, who had just moved to the Bay Area over for brunch. They had been living in Haiti for the past few years, and Diana had been working with women who were amputees as a result of the 2010 earthquake. She helped to train the women to sew and make bags and hair accessories, and I loved the story and the products. A few weeks after the brunch, we had their products up on Lydali! (Here they are, if you want to see.)
UB: Do you have any advice for young women trying to set up an online business?
Ali: I was a little bit intimidated by the prospect of setting up an online business. Don’t be afraid to go for it, and once you start taking steps to make it happen, things start feeling easier. I reached out to anyone and everyone who was doing something even vaguely related and had conversations with them. So many great learnings came out of talking to others who had started businesses themselves or worked in similar fields. We also were really lucky to have lots of talented friends who wanted to help, so we had friends styling our products, taking photos, writing copy for our website, and helping us find more artisans to work with. Think about the talent you have around you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
UB: Since this is a bridesmaid blog, I have to throw in a wedding question! Can you share a special memory from your own wedding?
Ali: So, I mentioned that I worked with artisan women in Kenya when I was in college. Well, for my wedding, they sent me this hilariously awful pink plastic ring box that played music for our rings to be carried in for the ceremony. It clashed completely with my style and the style of the wedding, but it was such a sweet thing for them to think to send. We didn’t use it for the actual wedding, but we did bring it out beforehand for pictures so that I could thank the women for the thoughtful gift. (I attached the only picture of it I could find, which doesn’t really capture the true ugliness of this thing!)