About Swuaye

The story of Swuaye, from creator and designer, Christian Perrin
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Christian Perrin
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In many ways, I am reticent to tell the story of Swuaye, through fear it may well sound like one of those clichéd ‘life changing’ travel tales. Anyhow - here's my clichéd life changing travel tale.
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Some years ago, after going through a rough patch, I read ‘the Beach’ and became convinced by Alex Garland’s claim that you can indeed run away from life's problems (or, in my case, my ex-girlfriend). Testing the theory, I booked my flight to Thailand, predictably. I wandered the country as a true free spirit; meeting wonderful people, taking in awe-inspiring sights, and admittedly seeking some sort of inner peace.
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Being the most haphazard idiot alive, I lost everything I had at one point, except for my passport. I moped into a Koh Samui café/bar I’d become a regular at, and confided in the owner – a sweet local woman, Gittima, who would always make time to chat. I dished out my 'woe is me' predicament and she opened a tab for me to eat and drink what I liked until I found a solution. She went further with her acts of kindness, giving me scooter rides to viewpoints, taking me to the best night markets, and integrating me into her friendship group.
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I had the purest of travel experiences. I’d play baffling Thai card games with my new mates, eat their homemade dishes, listen to their music and jokes, and just immerse myself in this new culture I’d been both fortunate and yet sort of unfortunate to stumble into. As far as materialism was concerned, these people had very little and barely knew me, but keenly gave so much.
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When my trip came to an end and I’d sourced enough money to settle my debt with Gittima, now a close friend, she refused to take my money, assuring me that my company had been repayment enough. I couldn’t believe the endlessness to this woman’s kindness, especially when I considered that she could have fairly judged me as a much more fortunate Westerner! Before I left, I made an effort to learn some Thai to thank her authentically. My little speech ended with “you have a beautiful spirit”, though given the delicacy of the tonal language, I kept getting beautiful (“suay”) wrong. One of Gittima’s friends who was teaching me at the café wrote on a napkin how to pronounce it. I nailed it.
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I returned from Asia with almost nothing except for stacks of beaded bracelets on my wrists and ankles. I’d bought them from street sellers out of guilt rather than desire, so I decided to learn how to make these things myself, so I could reconstitute the beads and make pieces that I actually liked. I began giving them to friends as gifts, and would explain where the beads came from and usually end up telling some travel story. People liked them, and they always loved the story, so I stepped up my little project. When it came to branding my pieces, I had a dig around in my memorabilia from my trip. I came across the napkin with the pronunciation reminder on it – I’d forgotten that I’d saved it to mark the treasured moment. It read “SWUAYE”.
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Now, I like to think that Swuaye pieces celebrate a moment in time, a savoured memory, or a special relationship - that's why I always love to make customised pieces. I also hope they sit in line with my belief that we should all try hard to put positivity out into the world. It usually rebounds back to us when we do. All designs are constructed from materials that symbolize states such as happiness, inner peace, balance, compassion, kindness; all those things I experienced on my trip, the things that make life beautiful.
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Swuaye
Wear Your Story
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