Part II: Making a real difference, for real people
This is part two of a three-part series in which Megan Risdon, EcoChic Lifestyles’ founder, tells us how she came up with the idea of EcoChic Lifestyles. In this installment, Megan tells us about the impact EcoChic Lifestyles has had on the local communities from which she sources our reclaimed boatwood.
I found an architect to help make a reality out of the furniture designs I was already seeing in my head, and started to find a way to source only the best fishing boats with which to craft these designs.
Reclaimed teak is a lovely material to work with. But because (if you’re doing it right) it’s been in the water, loved, painted over and over, you need to be really careful that you’re getting the very best stuff possible.
At EcoChic Lifestyles we only want truly straight teak, the material of every furniture designer’s dream. (And, incidentally, the wood that everyone who knows anything about furniture wants.) Plus, I wanted only the best paintwork. So I went straight back to the community I first spotted the fishing boats in, and started purchasing boats directly from them.
All of this effort has paid off in spades, and not just for EcoChic Lifestyles. I employ about 50 locals in Indonesia, and our company’s standards have given these employees a better life. We buy the boats directly from the families who own, use, and paint them as part of their livelihoods, so we’re putting money right back into the local economy.
But the part of this that makes me the absolute happiest is watching as these families realize that what they have—their artistic talent, these beautifully shaped boats—is worth not only nurturing, but also preserving, and that it has a life well beyond what they might even be able to envision in the near future. We see families crafting their boats with ever-increasing care; we see them painting and designing with artistic care beyond even the beautiful work I saw that I first fell in love with all those years ago.
I think part of this has to do with the idea of permanence. Now that these families know that their craft—the heritage of fishing, their artwork, even the work they put into building their boats by hand—has a use beyond its immediate, obvious lifespan, they’re proud of their livelihoods in a fully different direction than they were before.
Stay tuned next week for our final installation in this series. Learn how EcoChic Lifestyles is giving back to our overall ecology.