(American English) prop n. a business sharing the stories behind sustainably handmade goods
Austin and Marita Miller first traveled to Bangladesh with an idealistic desire to change the world and to help those less fortunate than themselves. Fortunately, over the eight years that they lived there, they began to realize that Bangladesh was actually changing them in ways that they could not have imagined.
As their perspective shifted, they moved from a colonialist pursuit that sought to impose a particular vision of culture and faith, to a stance of listening and learning and the willingness to be wrong. After letting go of their own agendas, their relationships began to flourish with the strong foundation of authenticity minus the barrier of unspoken motives. Adjusting to all of these changes as a young, growing family had its stresses but as their sons began to grow up with Bangladesh as their home, it slowly became home for their whole family.
Austin eventually found his passion as a product designer working with Bangladeshi designers to create products marketable in the US. Through his work, he discovered Pebble. He was amazed at their business model and began meeting with Pebble’s founders to learn from them. When the Millers returned to their home in Ohio after being gone for years, one of Pebble’s founders asked if they would be interested in distributing Pebble in the US. They eventually said “Yes”, started Kahiniwalla, and have spent the past years building up Pebble’s distribution in the US. By partnering with Pebble, the Millers have been able to marry their values of compassion, imagination and sustainability. They delight in the fact that their work puts sustainable handmade toys into the hands of the next generation.
Kahiniwalla is committed to Fair Trade. Since its founding, it has employed 12,000 women employees across 120 rural centers in Bangladesh. Pebble trains and employees women, providing them with a sustainable income. Thirty-five percent of Pebble’s production centers are strategically located to protect Bangladesh’s ecosystem and endangered species.