Her story may sound a little like the premise for a sequel to "Eat, Pray, Love," but Kimberly Hartman of JADEtribe had definitely earned a vacation when she decided to leave her job for a four-month excursion around the world.
"I was working in showrooms for over decade, and when the economy went south, I didn't want to get sucked into all the negativity," she explains. "I had all these frequent flyer miles, so I decided to go see my family, went to a couple weddings, then took off for India, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia."
After a stint at an ashram, Hartman found herself standing in a small weaving village in Laos. "[My guide and I] set off on this trek to see temples and ended up in this tiny crafting community," she says. "These women were making these amazing wall hangings with crazy decorative patterns. I was looking around and thought, 'This is it. This is where's it's going to start.'"
It wasn't long before Hartman had launched JADEtribe, a collection of unique handcrafted wares sourced from artisans and antique markets around the world. Working with the same women she met in Laos, Hartman provides fair wages for traditional textiles before shipping them off to become fabulous totes and handbags with craftspersons in Cambodia.
"I knew so many people in fashion, and I knew other people would gravitate towards these textiles as much as I did," Hartman explains. "There was definitely a market for the bags -- even before the whole tribal trend exploded. So we worked with the traditional crafts that were already being made to come up with high-end designs that would work for my clients as much as the people producing them."
Since its early days, the line has expanded to offer jewelry and clutches in addition to Hartman's signature satchels. "I'm dying to get into ready-to-wear," she exclaims. "Maybe starting with some funky beach caftans. Whatever we end up doing, it's important to me that we're always helping the locals and, of course, keeping it green."