How a Year of Backpacking around Asia Inspired Me to Start a Fair Trade Business


Londoner Harjit Sohotey-Khan left a career in the city to find inspiration in travel, finally finding enlightenment in Jewelled Buddha - an online boutique specialising in fairtrade jewellery and accessories

I'm sure we're all familiar with that Sunday evening feeling of dread. It's not even 6.00pm and you're already thinking about work! Before you know it another weekend has slipped away and that pop concert or afternoon in a country pub is but a distant memory.  Monday arrives like a car crash and you're already dreading the stressful commute to work, the to do list that just gets bigger and bigger and the endless, boring meetings.

Believe me I am very familiar with the Sunday evening slump! My unfulfilling corporate job was filling me with dread every single day. There was no incentive,  just the same old mundane tasks. 

I began to look at the world in a whole different light. Somehow the daily grind had started to feel futile and robotic. Everybody walking in one direction every morning. One by one, the same blank expression strained across our faces. Some rushing, some as if they had just rolled out of bed, either way, we all had one thing in common, we were all devotees to the 9-5.

Quitting the 9-5

Well, enough was enough, I was tired of wishing my life away. It was time to quit the  9-5 and finally have an adventure. With so many beautiful places to explore and cultures to discover,  I wanted to indulge in travelling and meeting new people.  I was both scared and excited, but in my heart I knew it was the right decision. I would never have the outlook, opinions or insight that I have now without taking the plunge. Quitting the 9-5 to travel was one of the best life-changing decisions I ever made. It allowed me to draw inspiration from different cultures and the world around us.

We visited so many beautiful and interesting places, meeting all kinds of people along the way. Of course, it wasn't all a bed of roses. Travelling can be tough! The long-haul flights, the hard beds, dodgy toilets, travelling across different time zones and lugging a heavy backpack in the intense heat was testing.  But that was a small price to pay for the opportunity to see some of the most amazing places in the world. Wherever we went, we were welcomed with open arms from people of all races. It inspired me to question my life and the path I was taking, especially in my career.  I wanted to wake up every single day to a job that I loved. Something compelling, that pushed me every single day. The thought of going back to the 9-5 seemed almost impossible now. Throughout our journey we'd stumble upon remote communities where we'd came across artisans that handmade beautiful jewellery or weaved beautiful fabrics. Everywhere we'd go, across Asia, people created beautiful things with their hands. It was a far cry from the whimsical trends of fast fashion. This interaction with artisan communities and learning about their stories and practices inspired me to start my own business and Jewelled Buddha was born.

Jewelled Buddha

Selling fair trade jewellery and accessories sourced from artisans around the world, here at Jewelled Buddha we partner with a social enterprise in India, who work with women's cooperatives to ensure artisans are empowered by fair pay, safe working conditions and regular employment. We offer one-of-a-kind handmade pieces. Boasting bespoke and luxurious upcycled, sustainable styles from our skilled artisans, our quality and fair trade pieces are a timeless inspiration from our travels.

From vintage sari's upcycled into scarves to handmade slip dresses, our one-of-a-kind pieces are perfect for any occasion. Our colourful range of upcycled sari bead necklaces are expertly crafted and unique in design.  We are passionate about making a difference and sharing our inspiration and creativity from our time travelling. To browse our full collection, head over to our website to find perfectly crafted bespoke pieces to suit you.