“I love the idea that the successes and failures of a business are mine alone.
Yes, I can work crazy hours, but I will be the one who ultimately reaps those rewards.”
- Created another business called the Pop Up Collective to showcase and amplify entrepreneurs and artisans
- Was an interior decorator with a renovation and design company
- Loves Kundalini yoga and dogs
- Started working life in London 25 years ago in retail buying and merchandising so life has gone full circle.
- Believes everyone should visit Hoi An in Vietnam
Judith Treanor reminds us of an intrepid modern-day East India Company adventurer. With an irrepressible passion for South-East Asian design, Judith created Temples and Markets to showcase the region’s emerging designers and artisans on a global stage. 95% of products are handmade. All are ethically produced. Each comes with a story.
Judith works with Vietnam and Cambodia social enterprises who are empowering artisan women with fair work and in turn benefits whole communities. By bringing their beautiful creations to Australia and beyond, Judith is creating an ever-increasing circle of women internationally who are positively affecting each other’s lives through trade. A win-win for all.
Why did you create Temples & Markets?
I have travelled extensively throughout South-East Asia over the last 20 years. When I first visited, I was as an ‘older than most’ backpacker. It was at that time the people, the beauty of the beaches, food, history and the contrasts and contradictions that characterise the region, first found their way into my heart.
I have always had a love for unique, colourful and vibrant design that speaks volumes about its cultural origins. I am awestruck by the way traditional crafts and textiles are used in the region and how they are brought right up-to-date by talented designers.
Every time I visited Thailand or Vietnam, I’d return home, be stopped in the street and asked, “where did you get that?” about jewellery, or a dress I was wearing. Over time, I realised I could make these amazing finds from my travels available to a wider audience.
DREAM TO REALITY
What was the catalyst?
It was a lady called Rany from Siem Reap, Cambodia whose jewellery I discovered on my first visit there. Rany’s boutique was in a small laneway. You’d never know it existed unless you were walking past or, as I was, enjoying a drink at the bar next door! Her small boutique window drew me in. Jewellery I’d never seen before. Each piece is made from the hand drilled seeds that fall from native trees.
Rany symbolises the resilience, creativity and strength so often found in the region. She’d left Cambodia for a life in India but her marriage ended, so she returned, divorced. Rany found herself on the streets. She spent a long time working out how to drill through the seeds she saw on the roadside. Finally, she created this stunning jewellery.
Today she employs seven local village ladies who handcraft her designs and has opened a bigger store. There are creative people like Rany all over Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Each with their own story to share. I wanted to create a platform to showcase them and their creations.
How has your business changed since you started?
Very quickly the business evolved into a business with purpose, an ethical business that gives back. I help trade artisans, often from impoverished or marginalised backgrounds, into a better life. Telling and sharing their stories. I work with social enterprises who are empowering locals with fair work through training in crafts. As Michelle Obama said, “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives”.
Originally, I never intended to buy in stock and wanted Temples & Markets to be a low risk drop shipping online store. Now I buy in stock, giving me control over quality and the customer experience.
I also founded The Pop Up Collective, a collaborative group of Australia based female entrepreneurs who share Pop Ups and Concept Stores. The premise is small business owners supporting small business owners and shaking up struggling retail.
Where should we travel in South-East Asia?
Everyone should visit the magical small city of Hoi An in Vietnam, a UNESCO cultural heritage site. A perfect holiday town with something for everyone, including a beach just outside of the main town. Hoi An is closed to traffic in the evening, so you can wander through the gorgeous laneways choosing which fabulous restaurant to eat at. Taste speciality dishes; white rose dumplings and the Cau Lau Noodle Dish which you won’t find elsewhere. Discover the beautiful temples, browse the local markets, art galleries and have shoes made.
With a history as a trading port and commercial centre attracting artisans and traders for centuries, Hoi An is brimming with creativity. Enrol in Red Bridge Cooking School where you’ll visit a local market and organic farm to pick up herbs for your recipes and learn to cook the best Pho. Dip in the riverside pool between dishes. Truly an experience to treasure forever.