Joseph Burns, Founder
Having worked and travelled abroad extensively I have always been fascinated with foreign cultures and people. My strong feelings on ethics and human rights have always made me want to meet with and understand those more marginalised people with whom I came into contact and to understand their history and their stories. Using my experience of business and a desire for everybody to be treated fairly I aim to deliver a market leading and educational business that can truly make a difference.
Where it all began…
All the way back in 1993, when I was 16, I was lucky enough to be involved in an expedition to the Indian Himalayas. At that age the furthest I had travelled was to Turkey with my family a few times which were wonderful experiences in themselves and had given me a taste for the culture of other countries, but it was the trip to the Zanskar valley in Himachal Pradesh which really set me on the path to a great interest in far flung places and the people who live there. I remember the markets of Delhi and Jaipur but it was the marketplace in Manali which really whetted my appetite for local, unique craft. I still have the walking staff I bought there and it is amongst my most prized possessions. I was also struck by the people and remember them clearly.
Even at University I managed to follow my interests, graduating in the unconventional but nevertheless fascinating and eye opening degree of Caribbean and South Asian Studies at the University of North London.
Since then I have spent many months living and working in China, travelling in South East Asia, the Antipodes and the Pacific Islands and have a love of the outdoors, not least in my beloved home country, the UK.
My Sourcing Background
For the last 6 years I have been sourcing consumer electronics from China. While I realise this is as far removed from sourcing handmade products as it’s possible to get I will be forever grateful for the commercial knowledge I acquired during that time. While I enjoyed the challenge of successfully bringing whole ranges of products to the market, the fact that I was ultimately developing throwaway products made from unsustainable resources never really sat comfortably with me. However I am so pleased to be able to use those skills to help me finally realise a dream I have had for a number of years, which is to run my own enterprise bringing beautiful, ethically sourced, traditional products to the UK market and beyond.
Other than that…
what more is there to say? Part of the philosophy behind ‘…in a strange land’ is that the customer should know exactly what they are buying, where it has come from and the story behind the product and I suppose a part of that is having faith in the people behind the business. I am a child of the Star Wars generation, born in 1977 and grew up in rural Buckinghamshire where I still live. I have always been interested in nature and the world outside my front door. I was a pretty bad beaver, cub and scout but always took the lessons from there I thought worth keeping. I am still very interested in living in harmony with the natural environment as much as possible as so many of the people we source our products from do. I am an enthusiastic surfer of limited ability (Surfing’s the source. Can change your life. Swear to God.) and have been studying various martial arts for the last 16 years.