Bali Blog Series | Our Mala Makers at Aum Rudraksha Designs June 29 2017
We have worked with our Mala Makers at Aum Rudraksha (AUM) designs for two and a half years so far, and before this trip to Bali to visit them, it’s purely been an online relationship!
So finally having had the chance to meet the team face to face it’s ended up being an experience that’s surpassed expectation. Vising the unassuming workshop in Binging Uluawatu really took me to the heart of where these special pieces are made.
You come into simple one level modern building with a front room retail space displaying beautiful malas for visitors to try on. Continuing through the retail space you head behind the scenes to a simple office space where the ladies I’ve dealt with for each order sit. It’s a very simple ‘back office’ where I’m always greeted with smiles and hugs.
Wandering through the back-office and into the workshop with strings of semi-precious gemstones hanging from the walls, neatly labelled drawers of component parts, bags of different sized rudraksha seeds laid out and a long table of smiling Balinese woman and men stringing, knotting, checking, and sorting Mala beads. You can’t help but feel this wonderful energy in the creative hub of AUM.
It’s fine delicate work where everyone has a particular role to play in the making process. Most of the woman work on one mala at a time on, threading and knotting the malas before passing them onto their counterparts at the other end of the table for stringing of the guru bead and tassel. Then to finally being checked off the order sheet and set aside ready for morning blessings before being sent out to distributors around the world.
Heading through the backdoor you’ll find just outside the workshop the men responsible for drilling the tiny holes in the rudraksha seeds. It’s rhythmic hypnotising work where you’re left wondering if surely there’s a machine that can do that… But this manual work keeps locals employed and this way the drill holes are always in just the right place – the way they grow on the rudraksha trees.
Always with a smile on their face, the Balinese are one of the happiest cultures I’ve observed. The team have been in their roles with AUM for coming up to 10 years, some being with the business since the beginning! Kadek (10yrs), the head mala maker’ in her fluent English helped me find all the stones I was looking for over the couple of days I spent designing malas. Ketut (7yrs) scooted me around Denpasar for half a day from warehouse to warehouse to find beautiful brass deities, a new collection for our online store. Karma (8yrs) one of the seed drillers personally dropped off some custom malas to the local villa I was staying at. Always greeted with smiles and appreciation for finally meeting the woman behind Mala Earth, I’ve felt like I’ve easily slot into this family team at AUM.
I was lucky enough to meet the founder Soma after she travelled down to Uluwatu for the day from Ubud, and her son Gopal who’s now running the day to day show. It was with a heart warming welcome we were able to finally have a laugh at having established our working relationship over the past few years without actually having met. But now that we have it’s really taken things to the next level.
Soma started AUM in 2003 after a “well known teacher Papaji said that because she lived so close to the source of the highest quality Rudraksha beads in the world, her Dharma (destiny) was to spread them to the western world.”Already used for centuries by hindus and buddhists, Papaji believed that because of the pure power of the Rudrakshas themselves “The world would be at peace if everyone was wearing them”
AUM has a philosophy that “we as human beings and as a company are dedicated to living in awareness and truth. Our main goal is to encourage peace and love amongst all the people of this world. A strong message of ours is "sharing is caring" and that what we do in this life impacts our eternal karma. With this message in mind we are happy to be able to share 20% of our profits with those that we feel need it most. We are an eco friendly and sustainable company based on the principle that we are all ONE energy and that we all need to look out for our Mother Earth and for one another.”
For us at Mala Earth, coming here to Bali, meeting the team, experiencing the workshop and spending time learning and absorbing the Balinese culture has been fundamental to check-in on our why and make sure that our values and approach is aligned… and how exciting to discover it was better than we could have possibly imagined.