Monday, 23 February 2009
“We first visited SKSN in January 2008. This project gives so many physically challenged children a chance of a decent future that many take for granted in the UK, offering basic needs such as medical care, food and schooling to this otherwise excluded sector,” explains Georgie Hopkins, Director of Myakka.
"During our visit last week, aside from essential activities such as playing cricket with the boys and having our hands henna'd by the girls, we progressed our trade programme with the school's VTC (Vocational Training Centre)," Ten girls who have finished their studies will be making soft furnishings such as cushions and bags to be imported & sold by Myakka with the aim of enabling the girls to develop their vocation and ensure an independent future. A similar project in conjunction with Myakka's furniture supplier is also planned to provide some older students with carpentry skills.
SKSN stands for Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan, a co-educational residential school established in 1991. SKSN is home for just over 550 physically challenged children and approximately 50 fully able day scholars. Although the boys and girls study together, they have their own separate boarding facilities. Both, boarding and educational facilities are provided free of charge and the school receives very limited state funding, which is why it is vital they receive support from companies such as Myakka.
Projects such as this benefit whole communities and not just the individual. By improving education and understanding of physically handicapped children, they are able to integrate into society as adults and live a fulfilling life. It costs £20 a month to give each child an education, food and cover boarding costs. SKSN is just one of the many projects in India that are reliant on company donations and fund raising to sustain their operation.
To find out more about SKSN and read about some of the children, visit their website http://www.sksn.org/
Thursday, 19 February 2009
“It is vital that we visit suppliers to look through new samples and discuss new product ideas,” explains Simon. Myakka have worked with their main furniture supplier for over 6 years and have a superb relationship. "We are currently working through samples of new lines to be launched this Autumn which include new pieces for the Mallani, Thakat and Khimsar ranges," continues Simon.
The values behind Myakka stand for nature, honesty, friendship and fairness – all the qualities that most people today want to bring into their home. These are also the qualities that they look for in their suppliers. “We want to ensure that we source ethically produced products where ever possible and that the production processes are seamless and transparent,” adds Simon.
Simon and Georgie make regular trips to see overseas suppliers and during their visits they will review some fair trade projects with a view to offering future donations. Just last month Myakka donated £5,000 to SKSN, a school for physically challenged children from rural areas of Rajasthan.
For more information about individual products, materials and Myakka’s fair trade promise, go to www.myakka.co.uk or visit the Myakka Warehouse Outlet in Somerset.
Thursday, 12 February 2009
“We like to think we’re honest, friendly and easy people to deal with,” says Georgie, Director of Myakka. The business follows the principles of fair trade and is a recognised importer and retail member of BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops).
90% of the products sourced and sold through Myakka are fair trade, either sourced directly by Myakka or using other fair trade suppliers as recognised by BAFTS.
The British Association for fair trade Shops (BAFTS) is an internationally recognised association promoting fair trade retailing in the UK and seeking to raise the profile of fair trade on the High Street. BAFTS certifies all members using strict criteria based on the definitions and guidelines for fair trade as set by the four leading international fair trade networks and works to provide a point of contact and communication for the exchange of ideas amongst its members.
Myakka uses its own fair trade mark to help customers recognise which products are fair trade. Over 70% of consumers now recognise and understand the values behind fair trade and this is growing annually. With so many consumers looking to buy ethical, green, recycled and eco friendly products, it simply makes sense that Myakka should follow these values.
Fair trade also means fair working conditions and pay for workers in many developing countries where unfair conditions and child labour, in the past, has been the norm. While some of these practices still exist today, all consumers that choose to buy fair trade products are helping to improve the lives of thousands of people in many countries for generations to come.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
The processes which go on behind the scenes at Myakka are unique and not at all conventional of normal design processes. Its owners would never admit to being designers (they leave that to their talented suppliers) but they do help guide design from season to season.
The values behind Myakka stand for nature, honesty & durability – all the qualities that most people today want to bring into their home. The use of natural materials such as solid wood and cotton bring a natural feel into any home, leaving its owner to add finishing soft furnishings to make it their own.
Myakka Directors Georgie Hopkins and Simon Whitehead use specialist Indian suppliers to assist them in designing the furniture. “We will have a vision of the pieces of furniture that we want to create for each new season. We will discuss functions, colours and finishes but it’s the talented craftsmen that we work with who are the real creators,” explains Simon.
The design process starts in the UK where Georgie and Simon get a good idea of what UK consumers want to buy through current fashion trends and assessing the most popular lines in their exclusive warehouse showroom store and from online sales.
“Our suppliers use a combination of traditional artisan techniques and state of the art machinery to craft each piece of furniture that we bring to the UK. This means we can keep alive traditional crafting techniques while not compromising on the consistency of the finish,” explains Georgie. Myakka’s trusted distribution partners ship the products from India in large containers so that they arrive safely in the UK from their overseas trip.
Monday, 2 February 2009
The story of Myakka began in July 1999 after Georgie Hopkins & Simon Whitehead bought liquidated stock from a soft furnishing wholesaler.
Based in Wincanton, Somerset, Myakka looks very different almost 10 years on. Solid wood furniture is now the signature product of Myakka along with an extensive range of rugs and soft furnishings. Over 90% of the products are sourced from fair trade suppliers and Myakka’s style is distinct and extremely popular.
Whether a customer is looking for soft furnishings such as colourful sofa cushions or something more substantial like a Sheesham wood table and chairs, Myakka definitely caters for a wide variety of tastes.
The Myakka name came from a place in Florida where Georgie and Simon have fond memories. It is remembered by them as a very natural habitat. ‘Myakka’ also has the added advantage of being a completely unique word which every person interprets differently and to most people has no fixed geographic meaning. Therefore the meaning of the company truly is in the mind of the beholder.
Myakka first traded online in 2003 and as consumer demand increased, so did the size of the business. Every 18 months or so, the Myakka website is given an overhaul to keep things fresh and current with technology.
Georgie and Simon often visit overseas suppliers to see new requested samples and review working conditions of the companies they partner with. The principles of fair trade are very important to Myakka, as is the quality and consistency of the products they sell.
When asked about the mission of the company Georgie says: “I think Myakka is about being genuine, useful, honest and responsible… in terms of the products we sell, how they are sourced, how we serve our customers and how we look after our staff & suppliers. It’s important to me that I feel very proud of Myakka and our achievements and we certainly don’t just measure that on a financial scale.”