When my friend Karen from Tall Wife invited me on an impromptu girls’ trip to Switzerland in November, I enthusiastically accepted the invitation. I envisioned a weekend full of fondue, shopping, exploring and girl talk and I wasn’t disappointed. In the shopping department, I scored a couple of tall tops and a magnificently soft cashmere shawl from Pink Maharani. Wait until you hear the story behind how it was made!
Both Karen and I hopped on the train from our respective homes and met in Zurich. You may remember that I had been to Zurich in 2015 and had had a nice visit to the tall shop I Love Tall. Of course, it made sense to pop into the shop again with Karen and we had a lovely time chatting with Annemarie, the owner of I Love Tall, and browsing the styles. Annemarie has expanded her private line since I saw her last and personally overseas the production of the clothing in Turkey. When a fellow tall lady is so hands-on in the designing and production of a tall line, you know the results will be good and that the pieces will undoubtedly be tailor-made for our tall frames.
One of the tops I scored on this visit to I Love Tall is a sporty-chic black top in a slightly textured fabric that feels really great against my skin and has some nice details like two zippers in the front, a triangle design at the neckline and dropped shoulder seams. It has an easy, relaxed fit making it comfy without being too baggy or looking sloppy (which are issues i often encounter with relaxed fit tops).
I figured I’d create a “bought in Switzerland” outfit and pair the top with my 38″ inseam grey jeans which I bought on my first visit to I Love Tall (I know you can’t tell under my Aquatalia weatherproof suede boots but they really ARE all of 38″ long) and my luxurious cashmere shawl from Pink Maharani which I bought in Geneva on the second part of our girls’ weekend. (By the way, remember my recent lamenting about the difficulty of taking blog pics? I decide to give the old husband another shot at taking some pics and he did a great job. Huzzah!)
I stumbled upon the Pink Maharani brand quite by accident and am SO glad I did as it is companies like this that remind me why I have shifted my focus to thoughtful shopping. Karen and I had ducked into a department store in Geneva and I noticed some beautiful wraps displayed on a table. As I was admiring them, I struck up a conversation with the lady who was overseeing the display table and proceeded to learn all about Pink Maharani. It turns out that the Pink Maharani display was only a a temporary “pop-up”, so I was definitely in the right place at the right time.
The shawls are all handmade with 100% natural fibers by artisans in Kashmir using hair from magical goats. The magical goat hair is used to produce Himalayan cashmere or “pashmina”. I am just going to go ahead and quote directly from the leaflet that came with my purchase because these details about the goats are simply too good not to share.
“Our products are with 100% natural fibers, 6 times thinner than a human hair strand that are hand combed from the under-belly of the Changthama. These rare goats can only be reared in the Ladakh region at the heigh of 4000m. Due to harsh cold temperatures…the goats grow a very fine soft hair that protects them during the winter season. However, in spring these warm fibers are shed, which are carefully combed, cleaned and then go through an 18-step rigorous process of spinning, weaving, dyeing and embroidery”.
I totally want to meet one of these cute goats with the magical belly hair! By the way, if you’re curious about how the herders gently comb the goats’ belly hair (as I certainly was), click here to read more. Actually, I highly recommend reading the WHOLE Pink Maharani website because this company has so much interesting info to share. While you’re on the site, be sure not to skip the info about the two women who founded the company!
I am really impressed with Pink Maharani’s vision which is not only to offer exquisite ethically produced cashmere shawls but also to empower the artisans and nomadic goat herders to make sustainable livelihoods. And Pink Maharani’s commitment to the local community doesn’t just stop there. The company takes it a step further by supporting two community projects. The sale of each shawl provides a local teenage girls from the urban slums of Bangalore with free menstrual hygiene products for one year as well as access to education workshops which touch on reproductive health. The other project provides children living in remote villages and urban slums with a school bag containing embedded solar panels. Sunlight charges the bags during the day and then the bags can be used as a light at night. Genius! You can read more about the community projects here.
To say that this shawl is the softest thing I’ve ever owned would be a huge understatement. It is so light and airy that I hardly even know it’s there when I wear it but when I do notice it against my skin, it feels wondrously luxurious. It’s not just the beauty of the shawl that excites me, however. I am also thrilled that my purchase helped support local artisans and children and a company with such a great vision! The shawl was by no means inexpensive but, in my opinion, it was money well spent when I consider all of the time, energy and artistry that went into making the item. I will truly treasure this shawl for years to come (and hopefully the rest of my life), and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase another shawl from Pink Maharani in the future!
Note: I bought all of the items in this post at full price with my own pennies.