Bernard Heaphy loves what he does - collecting souvenirs of his extraordinary journeys through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir and all the rest of south-western Asia that he knows first-hand.
When Bernie first arrived in the famous oasis city of Kashgar he was so overwhelmed by the history and the magic of the city that he decided there and then to give up his job as a builder and establish a new career collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world.
Starting in Sydney markets and fairs in 1991, Bernie finally amassed enough stock to open his first very modest shop in 1994. Since then he has traveled to almost every part of the world to acquire an exotic collection of fine silver, tribal jewellery, rugs and ethnographic handicrafts, each piece hand picked from its country of origin and bought from source, from itinerant street sellers to traders in the great markets, bazaars and souks of the world.
In traveling to some of the most remote places on Earth Bernie has occasionally run into serious trouble. He has been shot at in central Asia, jailed for street hawking in Hong Kong and harassed by the secret police in Iran. Whenever he travels in the Hindu Kush/Afghani border region he is required by the Pakistan Government to take a bodyguard with him. The going rate for bodyguards is currently US$3 per day and US$5 for every bullet expended - luckily no bullets have yet had to be used.
Visit Kashgar in person and you may even find Bernie himself, if he is not somewhere out there on the road collecting the best the world has to offer...
With a PhD in ecology and a career in environmental management, Linda could have been well content with life but found herself increasingly fascinated by the work of her father Bernie, who collected and sold artifacts, jewellery and textiles from ethnic minorities around the world. Spurred on by a deep personal interest in anthropology and the sustainability of third world ecosystems and human culture in the 21st century, Linda resigned from her science career and join her father in business in 2000.
Since then she has visited and traded with numerous tribal groups around the world including the Hmong and Dzao of Vietnam, the Chin, Kachin and Naga of Burma and India, and the Ifago, Bontoc and Banue of the northern Phillipines. She found herself increasingly drawn to all aspects of tribal adornment, particularly beads and beaded jewellery and began a personal collection of unusual and antique beads, many of which are cut, carved or moulded from bone, stone, resin, wood, metal, glass or ceramic and are sourced through broken and damaged tribal pieces that are considered unrepairable.
After undertaking study in the area of jewellery design and studying the beading and jewellery making techniques of various ethnic minorities, Linda began designing and creating necklaces utilising her personal collection. Her necklaces retain the raw beauty of original tribal concepts, but are designed to be worn easily with contemporary fashions. Because the beads are sourced from all corners of the world and are usually only available in limited quantities, Linda's necklaces are generally one-offs, or are created in runs of three or four pieces which share a common theme.
Many of the tribes that Linda visits are traditionally matriarchal in structure. By dealing directly with women and women's co-operatives wherever possible, she is able to ensure that the money paid for beads, textiles and ornaments goes directly to those who benefit from it the most. By supporting traditional methods of handicraft design and production, she hopes to encourage local industries which have a low impact on the environment and to help encourage ethnic minorities to be self-sufficient.
Ian had already had a taste of what he was in store for when he accompanied Linda on her first Kashgar buying trip in 2000 to southeast Asia. In 2001 he was convinced to leave his career in bar development and management to join Bernie and Linda in the family business for good, and so the Kashgar team was complete.
Often the "voice of reason" in what might otherwise be a very haphazard production, Ian takes care of the business side of the company but has had to dodge opium traders along the Burmese border more than once while out on the road, quite literally risk life and limb alongside Linda to source exotic and unusual pieces for the Kashgar collection.
Over the years Ian has developed his own areas of expertise within the business, in particular in the field of collecting and restoring antique Chinese furniture. He has also developed a natural and deep-seated love of interior and architectural design, which dovetails very neatly with his previous career in bar design and development. Ian is responsible for many of the wonderful displays and layout concepts in our store, and can professionally assist our customers with any conceptualization, structural and design difficulties that they may have in their homes.
Phoenix is the latest addition to the Kashgar family, joining us as a young pup in January 2009. It became apparent very early on that Phoenix was never going to be happy with a stay-at-home position, and soon enough we found ourselves bringing him into the store every day. Our hands were full every minute making sure that he didn't run out out of the store chasing pigeons or barking at our more "suspicious" customers, ie all men over the age of 15 and any women carrying umbrellas, walking sticks or shopping bags. But as he put his puppy months behind him and learned the tricks of retail trade, he has gently mellowed out to become an outstanding employee and all-round concierge for the store. If you would like to read more about the exploits of poodle-boy, you can do so here. Or come in for a visit and a cuddle any time!
Comments will be approved before showing up.