Joanna Hall, the founder of Bazaar, is a Textile and Fashion Designer from Hildenborough in Kent. She has been working alongside crafts people in India for more than 20 years.
She works mainly in Rajasthan with weavers, block printers, tailors, jewellers and women who do embroidery, beading and fringing. She manufactures her designs of clothing, jewellery and gifts through a web of trusted craftspeople she has befriended during this time. She also buys and collects from the items they have already designed and are making themselves.
"Everywhere you go in India, people are making things. Handmade paper sheets dry out across the fields and river banks. Dyed fabric is stretched out in the sun. Inside busy workshops, men forge jewellery whilst we sit on the floor sifting through piles of semi-precious stones looking for just the right colour. Rajasthan is a hive of activity.”
The culmination of all these efforts is a beautiful range of clothing, textiles, jewellery, sarongs, rugs, gifts and exotic home furnishings which Joanna sells at her extraordinary shows throughout the year. Each event is at a stunning location in the South East of England, and visitors are inspired to return again and again. More recently she has invited a limited number of specially chosen retailers throughout the UK to showcase her range as well as taking her designs direct to the public at select events and festivals.
Joanna is keen to ensure that not only does Bazaar embrace rigorous Fairtrade principles but also that a part of everything she does should go back into local communities. She has directly supported the Sandy Gall Afghanistan Appeal, Hope and Homes for Children and Hospice in the Weald as well as indirectly contributing to numerous other charities both in the UK and abroad.
A Bazaar show is a real spectacle and not to be missed. For further details of where to find Bazaar take a look at the Events page or Contact page. You can now also follow us on our Bazaar facebook page for more up to date news.
We were incredibly proud winners of our first award in 2019 at the Cambridge Folk Festival for being the most sustainable traders.
We have a large amount of recycled products and Jo is always thinking of new and creative alternatives to beat her nemesis, plastic. We are currently trying very hard to become plastic free. However, it is a process so please bare with us.
Alex's Kesari Dhaba
Alex, Jo's partner in crime, who can usually be found doing all of the backbreaking legwork that Bazaar entails, or taking care of their two kids, Saffron and Daniel, makes and serves 3 delicious homemade vegetarian Indian curry's on a traditional Thali plate at some of our summer shows. This dish is served, as it is in India, with a chapati, rice, a small side salad and a helping of yogurt, mango chutney and lime pickle. Alex was a head chef before he met Jo and took on helping the Bazaar team, he has been to India many times with Jo and the kids and has taken his cooking knowledge to create an awesome authentic Indian dish that compliments Bazaar beautifully.
For more information on when and where you can get Alex's awesome Thali please visit our Events page.
Our Free Arts and Crafts Workshops
At our summer shows we put on a free block printing and scrap creations workshop. Jo hires a member of staff to explain how to use the blocks and scraps so that you guys can create a fabulous masterpiece. It is great fun for kids and adults alike, and beautifully displays the way in which a high quantity of our fabric is made.
Every year we have a competition for our scrap creations workshop, the winner of which wins a large elephant wall hanging (take a look the Textiles page to see some examples). You create a piece at one of our shows then post a picture of your masterpiece on our Facebook page. Then, at the end of the year Jo and the Bazaar team votes on a winner.
For more information on when and where you can take part in our workshops please visit our Events page
One of the reason's Jo puts on this workshop, apart from it being great fun, is to help raise money for two charities which are very close to her heart. The first is for the Knitting ladies of Bhaktapur in Nepal, whom make Bazaar's woolen and felt products, and were heavily hit in the 2015 earthquake, some of whom are still struggling today (read more about the Bhaktapur ladies below). Secondly, is for the Forget Me Not Café in Hildenborough, which provides a social space for those suffering with dementia, and, is where Jo's dad Cyril spent some of his time in his last years.
The Knitting Ladies of Bhaktapur
Joanna Hall 2015
I was in India, travelling by road from Delhi to Rajasthan when the earthquake hit Nepal. By the time I arrived, the news was full of it, we watched in horror the gory footage and the dreadful devastation. I imagined the tiny cobbled streets of Bhaktapur, where ladies knit the hats and winter woollens that we sell in the UK, and my heart sank. Over the next 5 days I repeatedly tried calling and emailing my friends in Nepal. No one answered -- lines were broken -- batteries dead -- I was becoming increasingly worried.
Finally, on day 5 a call came back from Tsewang, who I met 20 years ago as he set up his first shop with his young wife. They have since exported all my cargo from Nepal, organised some of the manufacturing of my products and become good friends. I was overwhelmingly relieved to hear his voice. I gathered from the call that he and all his family and neighbourhood were fine, they lived in a rich bit of town. He said he had been to Bhaktapur, a medieval town with tiny alleys and cobbled streets, but his voice wavered as he said he could not go in — just rubble everywhere.
Many women from Bhaktapur are supporting their family income by knitting. They are organised groups of neighbours, normally about 15 to 20, with a central distributer, who has a storeroom of wool and some weighing scales and knows the design that needs to be knitted. Each distributer is linked to a wider audience, linked to people like Tsewang, who are linked to me. I have always made it my business to visit the homes of the families who make our products. Now I sat in India in despair worrying about those ladies and their families.
A few weeks later back in the UK I received an email from Mr Toran, a knitwear dealer in Bhaktapur. He said, "Please help us to help all our workers...they are helpless and homeless."
So, my campaign began, and we started to raise money through the business and from everyone we knew. People were generous.
Several months later with the money that had been raised, I found myself on a plane flying into Katmandu, looking out of the plane window in utter relief as we landed. All the buildings were still standing up! But just a walk away I prepared myself for what was to come by visiting Durbar Square, where beautiful temples had been flattened. By the time I arrived the rubble had mostly been cleared away, but still it was sobering to see familiar sights just no longer there.
Seeking the advice and help of Tsewang and Mr Toran I spent the next couple of days in Bhaktapur, visiting the ladies who do our knitting and who had been affected by the earthquakes. I wanted to see what was going on and listen to their stories, so I could try to help by raising more awareness, but there were so many people in great need. What was I going to do about the donated money? There was definitely not enough to go around.
I split it into two halves, one half for buying rice and oil and general food supplies to he handed out. The other half I put in my bag and vowed to give it out in small portions to the people who I met — some were faces I knew, others not, but the need was great.
We sat in a broken cracked home where about 14 ladies gathered around me. They sat and knitted and drank chai and I wrote notes. One by one they told me about their earthquake experiences, then one by one they took me to their broken or flattened homes and then on to the tents and temporary shelters that they were, and still are living in.
It was harrowing just to hear the stories of those who survived the earthquake, those whose houses stayed intact as they held onto each other or held onto the pillar during the shaking. To hear of the staircases that fell as people tried to escape. The people were talking, and they had a harrowing, terrifying experience. The little children seem older. Some had lost family members, suffered injury, their homes gone. No one seemed to know what to do.
My local friends had differing opinions as to how best to distribute the funds we had raised. Tsewang was happy to visit five or six families who were badly affected. He took me to meet them.
I then went to visit families with Mr Toran. Whom had hundreds of workers who had lost their homes. He feels a certain duty of care to help them all and did not want to give any individuals actual cash. He said, "If we give to two or three people and not to others then how can we handle the outcry from the others?"
He wanted to spend the money on a truck full of rice oil and food to donate to everyone. "At least every family can then eat for a month."
I went with the people I knew, with my gut feelings and the money burning a hole in my bag. It was humbling for me to pass on small handfuls of money to people, some welled up as I gave it to them, some were relieved, some embarrassed. Earthquakes hit all sorts. I tried to explain that it was not my money, but money donated from people I know and who had entrusted me with it...