For over two decades Balizen has created a unique line of products for home, garden and body. Our designs are inspired by nature and the zen traditions of craftsmanship, simplicity, harmony and the use of natural materials.
With respect to the local artisans' lifestyle, traditions and environment we also work with village communities, educating them in conservation, sustainable development and organic farming. We are a member of the Fair Trade Federation.
Through our designs we not only strive to create more enjoyment for people in their daily lives, but also to share the abilities and sensibilities of one culture with another, enabling open communication and helping make the world more of a global family--like our own.
The name “zen zen” comes from a Japanese expression which loosely translates to “but of course” - that natural serendipity which occurs when you’re doing something positive for the planet. This has always been the mission of the company founders, as they continuously work to create a beautiful line of products that are handmade from sustainable materials and all with a personal touch.
Andrea and Nyoman live and work in Bali & the USA. They run the business together with the help of a great team of employees and the wonderful support of customers, friends and family.
“My parents called me busy fingers when I was little,” Andrea says. “I was knitting at 5, making my own clothes at 9 and designing my first interior at 12, always making something. I love art and dance, crafts, language and culture, collaboration and creating great products that make people smile. I grew up in a family of insatiably curious and creative people, I went to a Rudolf Steiner school, and studied art in college, did costume design for a while and then worked with my dad making laboratory equipment for public health laboratories across the globe. All these things have contributed to what I am and do and share today.
In the early 90s, when zen zen, our wholesale company, was young, we used to tell people that we only used natural, ecologically sustainable materials and they usually had no idea what we were talking about. Thank goodness, terms like recycle, green, eco-friendly and carbon neutral are now becoming house hold words. That’s great news for the planet. As for us, we have been essentially green since 1992, and we stay that way by following these basic principals:
- We use ecologically sustainable natural materials such as bamboo, vetiver, capiz shell and organic cotton. We also try to recycle as much as possible. We make patchwork and carpets from our fabric scraps and decorations on our bags too. Everything is hand made by village artisans or in our Balizen in-house fair trade workshop with the smallest carbon foot-print we can manage. We utilize, sustain, support & promote traditional, indigenous village handicrafts, so they can be enjoyed by this and future generations. We train our workers and outside suppliers to improve efficiency & sustainability as well as the 5 Rs – reduce, re-use, recycle, refuse & repair. We also believe strongly in continuous improvement. We are always looking to make things more efficient and sustainable.
- We are a registered fair trade company, Fair Trade Federation member. This means that everyone we employ, and our subcontractors too get a fair living wage and have good working conditions, and are planet conscious too. Our Bali workshop employees all have health insurance & pension plan & Friday afternoon sports. But for us Fair Trade means more than that. To us fair-trade means fair to everyone – from our most basic material suppliers/growers to the end retail users. No one gets a huge markup while someone else is getting little, and our customers get a really good value for their money too.
- We support and are involved in sustainable education, re-forestation, organic farming, community empowerment projects and contribute to Greenpeace and Doctors Without Borders.
All activities must be based on compassion and love, otherwise, we might exploit others without knowing it. Before embarking on any activity or new project, it is important to always start at a place of respect and careful consideration of others.
Every action and step we take needs to be considered, counted and calculated. We need to look at the affect our actions have on other people, environments, current systems and resources. All resources should be used effectively and efficiently with minimum waste of time and space. Always look for ways to improve.
In order for a business to be truly and continuously sustainable, the goal cannot be power, property and prestige. Not for accumulation of personal wealth, power and domination of others, but instead for the happiness of all.
Real value adding is when you are able to take something of low value and to make it more valuable with effort, time and investment. Value adding not so much just about making money, but more about making things more useful for humanity, for nature and the universe. The opposite of this would be by increasing value through PR and future trading.
To be able to sustain all these good works and intentions, it is necessary to appreciate and respect social value in the communities that are involved in the business. Trust, caring, love, beauty and peace must also be fostered and sustained within the community itself.