Travel has been a force behind Carter Seibels Singh’s life for as long as she can remember. Growing up in a home where her mom spoke French to her and her father travelled the world for work, the desire to learn about and experience different cultures came naturally for Singh.
“My Dad would bring things home to me from his travels: beaded necklaces from Kenya, batik clothes from Bali, and I remember dreaming of what those places must be like,” she said.
Combining her love of travel and jewelry making, the online jewelry and beading business WomanShopsWorld was born in 2010. Singh runs the business with her husband Aveesh and they sell their goods on their Etsy shop. The pair has over 30 years of experience in the beading business and WomanShopsWorld was born out of a large wholesale bead business they had previously owned.
“[The business began] somewhat accidentally,” Singh said. “…I realized that the growth of the [wholesale bead] business had really taken me away from my hands-on engagement with the products. So I started WomanShopsWorld as a side project, as a way to have more contact with the beads I love so much. Never would I have imagined that it would grow to what it is today, but in hindsight I now see the power of following your passion.”
Aveesh covers the international sourcing aspect of the business and Singh is the owner and curator. Fair, local trading in international communities is important to the company and its products.
“With technology, the world is getting smaller,” Singh said. “Traditions fade, languages disappear; supporting local communities helps keep all of this alive.”
Many of their products are mutli-faceted, she said. For example, the tassels that are sold supports several families in one village.
“We work with a family of artisans who run their own textile business, but they take their threads to be dyed by the ‘dye master’ in a co-op facility that is run by the local government,” she said. “Then they hire other local women to help them make the tassels.”
Sourcing from different communities abroad not only creates a system that benefits the artisans of that community but also benefits the consumers by creating unique pieces that shares a piece of the people, village, country or city it comes from. Working with people of different cultures can sometimes present communication roadblocks, but a solution can usually be found, Singh said.
“We run into interesting scenarios almost daily. I think that’s the nature of dealing in handmade goods, especially when you are crossing cultures. Things just get lost in translation,” she said.
The couple mainly travels to and sources from India and Nepal but they have a long list of locations and communities they hope to expand to. “The list changes weekly,” Singh said. “But I’d love to explore South America more and the African continent is a huge lure.”
Carter’s love of beads began as a small child. “I was the kid in [grade] school making the three inch wide friendship bracelets during recess,” she said.
She remembers being fascinated by a blue marbleized beaded necklace that was a piece of costume jewelry belonging to her great grandmother and that may have sparked the love for beading. Singh began making jewelry her junior year of college. The next year, she started her first jewelry business when people wanted to buy the pieces off of her neck.
WomanShopsWorld has progressed because of the popularity among consumers and the creative fulfillment it gives Singh. The business allows her to travel and foster other small business owners worldwide, two things she said are very important to her. Finding a way to turn your passion(s) into your career is her advice for anyone hoping to find a fulfilling career.
“Do you have a passion that you could dedicate yourself to wholeheartedly? Is turning that passion into your livelihood going to rob you the pleasure you receive from it?,” she asked. “If the joy is gone because it has become work, then the joy is… gone.”
Singh lives by the philosophy of being kind and staying true to both yourself and others, and that philosophy pours into every aspect of her life, including her work.
“If we all acted with more kindness, and lived our truth, this world would be a very different place,” she contends.
Q: What are you listening to right now?
A: I can’t get enough of the new James Vincent McMorrow album. It has become my life soundtrack.
Q: Top beauty products
A: I’m not a make-up kind of girl, so a bit of moisturizer and I’m good to go. Perfume is a must for me; I like to wear “ittars,” Indian essential oils, because they smell intoxicatingly good and are a bit exotic compared to the scents we have here in the U.S. To me, smelling good is beautiful!
Q: What are some of your favorite on the go items
A: Mama Chia is one of my favorite things in the world. I love how filling and nutritious they are. Iced Coffee is one of my favorite beverages and fuels most of my days. Nuts and dried fruit. I joke that I’m like a squirrel; I could live on trail mix.
Q: What are three things you don’t leave the house without?
A: Water, a sweater, my iphone.
Q: What are two home essentials that make your space a sacred sanctuary
A: An essential oil diffuser and a good stereo. Good smells and good music make for a magical environment.
Q: What are you reading right now and/or your two favorite books
A: My 2 favorite books are: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende. Both are so beautifully written that even if the plots weren’t good, the writing would keep you reading.
Q: Favorite place you’ve traveled to and why
A: A quaint little garden restaurant in Jodhpur, India. It was one of those perfect moments in time; music being played on the Saranghi, a desert breeze blowing warmth off of the surrounding fire pits, and delicious food cooking in the tandoori oven. I would go back there time and again if I could.