Simeon and I have a long history with Lombok, having first visited the weaving village in 1992. We were in our early 20s exploring Bali and Lombok and we came across a beautiful textile hanging in a small shop. We bought the piece and asked the lady where it was made. She directed us to a village in the foothills of Mount Rinjani.
We were amazed at the quality of the fabric we found and immediately imagined a market for it back in Australia. We began making regular trips to Lombok and started a textile and cushion business based in Byron Bay. We imported Lombok textiles for about 10 years.
On our second trip to Lombok we met a man called Erwin who we became close to. He spoke English and became our liaison with the weavers. In those days there were no telephones in the village. We purchased a fax machine that was installed in a town nearby. We would send a message to Erwin by fax which was hand delivered to him in the village. He would travel to the town and call us.
On one of Simeon’s trips to Lombok, he and Erwin went to another area in search of good quality cotton. On this trip Erwin met his wife to be, Anna. Anna and Erwin now run the weaving co-op where we source most of our textiles. Erwin works for a Dutch travel company and takes groups to visit the weavers. Anna prepares delicious local food where they lunch amongst the textiles. Erwin entertains the groups with Lombok history, interesting anecdotes, hilarious jokes and information about the local weaving tradition.
We visit Lombok often and through Tradisi, the social enterprise Simeon and I founded in 2013, deliver various projects that support the health, well-being and incomes of the women and their families.
The textiles are made on a backstrap loom that sits on the ground. Most women weave in their homes. Income in the village is derived from farming and weaving. There is a variety of cloth produced including songket, ikat and straight weaving to produce lighter fabric used for scarves.
Tradisi is building a workshop that will be used to produce natural dyes. We hope to encourage more natural dying by finding markets for these products around the world.