In 1984 I hitchhiked and rode trains and buses on the land route from Montreal to Peru and back to Alaska. I spent $2000 in six months, was arrested twice and re-crossed the US border with $11 in my pocket and six Otavalo sweaters stuffed into an Army surplus dufflebag. That was the beginning of Invisible World.
At its best, business is a way to explore life and get deeper understanding. Like many young people, I was on fire to fill myself with knowledge the big mysterious world, and these six rustic sweaters looked like the best way to get back to that Continent and be part of it.
Gradually, we expanded to Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico. Invisible World wasn’t simply a way to make money; it was a form of tourism. In China for a wedding in 1991, I thought it would be worthwhile to go into the silk trade because silk is an interesting fiber and China was just beginning to shake off its 40 year malaise of Communism. Cashmere came into our product line because it gave me an excuse to go to Inner Mongolia in the dead of winter, a trip that started as an obsession and became the basis for the novel, Invisible World.
A better merchant would say that those are stupid reasons on which to base a business decision. And I agree with them. There is no particular financial acumen behind Invisible World: just a sense of curiosity and the ability to find people with amazing textile skills and let them do their thing.