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The art of weaving luxury with sustainability

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. - Native American Proverb

Weaving, a method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth.

Last Thursday, Nancy Shalala and Staci Dunbar, from Moyadi, shared with us an extraordinary evening of weaving. Weaving beauty with social and environmental responsibility, luxury with sustainability, to form the fabric of conscious consumers.

As consumers in this modern world - and in our society and culture in particular - we tend not to think through about the background story of the products we buy.

To a certain degree, I live with a mix of ignorance and trust that renders a lack of awareness of the complex background involved in the production of every good I purchase. When I say “ignorance”, it’s because - although I am aware that work conditions and human rights are violated in many places in the world (which horrifies me) - it feels distant, foreign, and far away from me. When I say “trust”, I guess I have a naïve trust that governments and corporations stand by their social responsibility, ensuring regulations and ethical practices are enforced along the way.

Unfortunately, as we learned with Staci and Nancy, both sentiments are far from the truth. Nancy, as a former Foreign Service Officer for the United States Agency for International Development, has seen first-hand how human rights are trampled over in work places everywhere, constantly, only to produce goods I end up buying. I am, therefore, unaware of being myself part of the problem. The production of consumer goods is a business - it is at the base for our economies to function and has profitability as its end goal. Hence, ethics sometimes end up in murky waters, and “a blind eye” practice happens more than we care to admit.

As both Nancy and Staci said, this is not an issue that one individual can fix alone. Neither is it a change that can happen overnight. It’s not hard to appreciate the complexity of the problem.

Realistically speaking, we are not going to do our groceries or go to a store and question if every single item we purchase has adhered to an ethically sustainability production process. However, there are small changes that we can make.

As we learned that evening, the movement of ethical and sustainable production, albeit nascent, is growing, and that’s where we can all help in whichever capacity we chose to or can.

Maybe it’s trying to support more local farmers, by purchasing directly at your local farmers market. Maybe it’s trying to purchase more seasonal produce at the supermarkets. Maybe it means that at times, we inquire just a little further when we are about to make a larger or more luxurious purchase. That we take the time to read about the brand’s philosophy or - even better - to start scouting out companies that are aligned with an ethically sustainable mission and support them.

Moyadi, is one of those companies. It prides itself on ensuring to the end consumer that whatever is purchased bearing their brand stands by a production that has neither harmed human beings nor the environment.

Staci and Nancy’s story is magical - from every point of view. Starting with their lifelong friendship, that shows the palpable love, respect and admiration they have for each other. To their steadfast commitment to produce high-end beautiful products that are harm free. To the amazing support they give to a small community in Inle Lake, Myanmar, whose livelihood depends on the ancient and sacred practice of lotus stem weaving.

Lotus stem weaving, as Nancy explained, began over a century ago when a local woman wanted to honor a Buddhist monk by giving him a special robe. She discovered that if she cut the stem of a lotus plant and pulled the halves apart, it contained hundreds of filaments thinner than human hair or silk. By rolling these filaments with her hands, she was able to create strands long enough to weave fabric using a loom and make the special robe for the monk. The Lotus flower grows abundantly in the area during the rain season and bears a special meaning to the locals as a symbol of human enlightenment. Nancy explained that this metaphor derives from “the lotus plant rooted deep in the mud, where it begins its upward journey through muddied water. Eventually, breaking the surface of the water to blossom in a state of absolute beauty.”

As Nancy continued to take us on this magical voyage, we had the amazing imagery to accompany the story, stunning short clips - created by Staci - of Inle Lake and the entire process of lotus stem weaving. I would urge you to check it out on their website, the pictures are eye-candy and it’s fascinating to see how this craft is done.

Moyadi produces scarves and stoles, with fabric made either from pure lotus stems or a mix of lotus stems and silk. The results are exquisite pieces of garment that are art work all in of themselves.

From garments, they then had the idea of using this luxurious and soft fabric to make an “eye mask”, and with it, create an herbal insert (that you chill in the refrigerator prior to using it! ahhhh – heaven!!!). This new venture propelled them into the world of scents.

Staci shared how they spent months upon months, just the two of them, testing all varieties of essential oils and the endless combinations possible, until finally ending up with a fragrance they loved for the insert. One that evoked tranquility and relaxation and that they - appropriately - named: Stillness.

Customers loved the scent of the eye mask insert so much that they decided to launch the fragrance as a perfume. A perfume based upon the science of aromatherapy.

At this point of their story, they divided us into small groups and handed us a tray with five mystery essential oils. We were asked to guess what essential oil each one was, and to describe what emotion it evoked in us. We then shared all our opinions as a group and Staci and Nancy gave us a short bio for each essential oil explaining its history and common uses. As a bonus, and total treat, they shared their new upcoming fragrance and asked us to provide them with feedback. It was a powerful exercise, one in which we all agreed that their new fragrance is “uplifting and energizing”. Totally (yet wonderfully) different than the emotions evoked by “Stillness”.

My true admiration goes out to these two amazingly accomplished women and their beautiful mission. Their unwavering commitment to stay true to their philosophy, despite the many difficulties they have encountered to comply to this commitment, is truly an amazing feat. Their beacon of having everything from the sourcing and manufacturing, to the very last detail in their final packaging of all their products to be harm free is remarkable. I thank them for their efforts in raising social awareness and motivating others (including me!) to become responsible and conscious consumers, helping the world become a better place, one purchase at a time…

To me everything about Moyadi exudes pure goodness.

With intent,



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