My first trip to Nepal was an eventful and memorable one, and is when I fell in love with the simplicity of Nepalese life and the people, and strangely this is where my inspiration came from to create Simply Devine.
I planned my trek to Everest for over a year and as I had never trekked before it was all a bit scary nor did I have the right kit to wear. Yes, the credit card got a hammering that year.
I say it was eventful because on arrival at Kathmandu airport I had really had a case of PMT and my luggage hadn’t made the transfer so had been left in Vienna. As you can imagine I wasn’t a happy bunny. All that expensive kit was wasted because we were setting off on our trek and my luggage wouldn’t arrive until we were at Namche Bazar (5-6 days into the trek). Thank goodness I had worn my walking boots to travel in having trekked miles in the UK bedding them in.
A porter was hired to pick up my luggage when it eventually arrived on the next flight and to catch up with us in altitude zones. In the short space of time we had in the capital prior to setting off I had to buy some necessities. I bought some underwear and whilst a UK size 12 then, I asked for large but they were catering for Nepalese ladies who are doll size, so as you have probably guessed, I couldn’t even get them up my leg. Not a good situation to be in when it’s the wrong time of the month!
Referring back to Kathmandu airport, I still find it daunting even now! I’ve never seen so many people in one place and all touting for your business to carry your bag for a fee. I have since learnt to travel light enough to carry my own bag (or carry small Rupee banknotes), as in one visit I handed over the only note I had in my purse (a twenty pound one at that) for a 2 minute walk to my pre-booked taxi. I laugh about it now but it warms me to think I fed a Nepalese family for weeks and weeks and weeks! I also ensure these days that I travel with the same airline throughout the journey and recommend Qatar Air simply for their transfer times.
I’d got the trekking bug and it wasn’t long before I was booking my next trip which turned into a business trip combined. Simply Devine had been born since returning from my first trip and we needed some high end cashmere products to offer with our beautiful hats and accessories. Not only do we now supply our Simply Devine boutique with cashmere we also supply a number of high street retailers with their own labels from Pashmina by Simply Devine.
It is an absolute pleasure and very fulfilling to work with a number of Nepalese families and to provide them with a decent income for their efforts. They now call me sister Liz! All the years I have now been travelling to Nepal I can safely say Nepalese business men and women can be trusted. However I done have one main tip – it is important that you dot your I’s and cross your T’s when giving instructions – you have to be very specific and firm. Electricity is also a problem in Nepal, so if the lights go out suddenly, don’t panic: a generator usually kicks in. I recommend carrying a torch.
Of course my Nepalese families have extended family, so with my 10 years of trekking knowledge and having trekked miles and miles with them, I am just starting a unique trekking company. You’ve guessed it – Simply Devine Trekking. It’s for women only who want to trek in Nepal – either individually or in small groups – to find their own ‘devine’ inspiration whilst taking in the beautiful Nepalese landscape.
Simply Devine is now one of Yorkshire’s specialist millinery shops bursting with fine hats, offering designer label hats and fascinators, including an extensive range of accessories. Mum and daughter team, Joy Devine and Liz Devine-Wright, initially started their business as a hat shop, but increasing success has enabled it to evolve into a fabulous shopping experience encompassing handbags, shoes, wraps, jewellery, gifts and cards. Simply Devine stocks glamorous unique accessories for very special occasions and have even supplied Christina Aguilera with a hat which was sent all the way to California.
Since 2004 Simply Devine has also made its foray into the world of wholesale with their Embrace Colour collection of cashmere under the Pashmina by Simply Devine brand. Renowned for their 100% cashmere ponchos, they are perfect for travelling. Be warned though: once you have one you will want more!