LILLI SPEAKS TO AUGUSTE ABOUT THE BOUNDLESS EDIT IN NEPAL by Lilli B

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Lilli Boisselet is Co-founder of The Boundless Edit, an organisation that creates charitable projects to support women in developing countries - breaking the poverty cycle through business. 

We chatted to Lilli when she was in Nepal working on a project called "Quilts For Kids Nepal." A micro-financed project based in Kathmandu, the project's mission is to provide work for economically challenged women, and to finance the education of underprivileged children. 

Get to know Lilli...

 

Describe a day in your life: 

There's no two days the same!
Here in Nepal, we are shooting for a grassroots project giving a collective of women the opportunity to make and sell quilts.
We usually wake up around 5am and look over the photos from the day before to make sure we're on track to get the content we need. I try to meditate as much as possible when I'm here, as it's just the most electric, rejuvenating energy, so we'll go into a class around the Boudhanath Stupa at 7am for an hour. The area we are in is primarily a Tibetan Buddhist population, so the smell of incense and the sound of puja drums from the monasteries are always in the air - it's an incredible background for unleashing creativity.

Then after breakfast, we'll head off to what we have planned that day. It can be difficult to keep a schedule in Nepal as people can cancel last minute, or a crazy monsoon rain might come out of nowhere andcancel an afternoon. Patience is key!

Today we met Ravina and Karma, two of the women from Quilts For Kids and take a taxi into Indrachok market in Kathmandu to buy the fabrics for our collaboration quilts. After some spirited bargaining, we head back to the community with the material and spend time with the women and their families.

We work closely with the women, they invite us into their homes and their lives, so it's important to invest the time to build a relationship with them, it's not just about taking a photo and going home - we drink A LOT of masala teas!

We have the afternoon planned at a nearby school, we are giving art classes to the younger kids. They are from 7-9 years old and it's the first time I've tried a finger painting class so I'm pretty nervous!

Some of the kids I met last year, it's lovely to see them again growing up so fast. It goes quite well, to my relief, give or take a few fingerprints on shirts!

I'm really impressed with the kids paintings and once we take a final class photo, we pack up and after another masala tea with Pema, a teacher at the school who helps us organise the classes, we leave around 3pm. We’re all exhausted - kids have so much energy! - and desperate for a late lunch around the Boudhanath Stupa with lots of fresh lemon sodas.

We’re having dinner with a friend of mine, Ram and his family. First, we go to the local Hindu temple Pashupathinath, where Ram works as a tour guide, to watch the nightly 'Light Ceremony' next to the holy

Ganges river and a beautiful sunset over the temple. It's one of my favourite places in the world, a beautiful mix of music and dancing and holy men with candles and people of all ages and monkeys and smoke from the cremations - even though its where 92% of all cremations in Nepal happen, it feels as though all of life is in this place.

After the ceremony, the boys take us on their bikes to Rams house, where his sister is preparing a traditional Thali dinner for us. Rams older brother recently got married so we watch the wedding video, with the family and their dog Tikku, it's a really touching moment. For dessert, the family tries TimTams for the first time - with more masala tea - and then the boys drop us back at the guesthouse and we crash out, exhausted at 9pm.

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RUSSH - Astrology 101: watch and learn with Chani Nicholas filmed by Lilli Boisselet by Lilli B

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“Astrology is a language of archetypes – that’s why it goes so well with music, that’s why it goes so well with fashion … it’s a way of seeing the world, it’s a way of seeing self.”

To say L.A.-based astrologer Chani Nicholas has struck a chord is an understatement. She’s amassed a 270+k Instagram following, is endorsed by Oprah (Nicholas is OprahMag.com’s resident astrologer) and has recently been recruited by music streaming giant Spotify to curate their new Cosmic Playlists – a monthly horoscope in music form, designed to inspire, incite reflection or simply for your weekend lounge room soirée.

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Postcards from Morocco with The Boundless Edit photographers Kate Lewis and Lilli Boisselet by Lilli B

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The sounds here are distinct; the kind you won't hear anywhere else. The banging of the milk can as we wake in the morning; fresh milk being squeezed from the cows' teats for making our favourite apple cake for breakfast. The intense snorting of a rogue donkey in the pasture behind the house; the crescendo of a flock of birds coming over the nearby mountains and into the valley. Children playing, speaking a mix of the local Berber Arabic and English, learned from Hollywood movies. Adults hurrying to prepare for the day ahead, leaving for 'rush hour' on the back of a donkey; their small hooves clamoring over the rocky, dusty streets. 

There are some places on earth that compel the wild in us; some people on earth who compel a fight against all the odds. This tiny village in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is one of those places; Karin Reinders and Fatima Falfouli are two of those people. Meetings happen a little differently here - as we drive for hours down dusty paths, with little around, we are soon greeted warmly by an entire village. It's extreme remoteness provides a guise of a sanctuary against the bustling outside world for me, but for the community who live here, it proves a daily struggle.

Kate and Lilli spent time in Morocco together, on project with The Boundless Edit.

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LILLI BOISSELET SPEAKS TO SAMANTHA WILLS ABOUT EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH THE BOUNDLESS EDIT by Lilli B

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Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago? If not, what did you think you would be doing?

Not at all!

I imagined myself working as an interior designer in a firm, living in Sydney full time. My interest in building businesses came later, after university, when I began finding myself around incredibly entrepreneurial people for the first time in my life and I just loved it beyond words. It felt like home - it expanded my mind about what was possible. 

I remember being about six and making custom-made wallpaper for my friends’ doll houses and trading them for musk sticks, so I guess that drive for creative business has always been there. 

I’ve always been creative, but how I expressed it was narrow – as in traditionally creative. I remember being seventeen and my career adviser saying things like “Do you want to be a fashion designer or an artist?” Once I got into the business world, I started looking at business as the ultimate in creating. Business is the ultimate alchemy for me. To create something out of nothing, to have these dreams of a world only you can imagine and see it gradually come into fruition and change the course of peoples’ lives. The possibilities humble me everyday. 

I guess the lesson in it, for the next 10 years, is to take the opportunities as they come, say hello to strangers and expand, edit, expand, edit my world constantly. To follow the things that spike my interest and just enjoy the ride as they evolve! 

I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be?

I was raised believing I am equal to the boys around me and I hope the legacy of the work we do means the same can be true for young girls everywhere. 

It might seem like a simple thing, but we can take for granted the enormity of growing up with that mindset. 

The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION is about bringing women in business together – why do you think this is important?

This takes on a new level of importance in the communities we work in. Women making opportunities for themselves through business directly becomes a means to be able to feed their children, to educate their young girls especially and to ultimately have a say in the family unit and broader community. Earning their own money gives them ‘a seat at the table’ in strongly patriarchal communities.

You can sponsor all the children to go to school you like, but until there is an improved level of respect for women in developing communities, the cycle of poverty won’t change. When we support women in business and entrepreneurship, our voices become louder in the home, in the community, in the country, in the world. The ability to earn money means women have a say on how the money is spent, and all the data continues to say that for every $1 a woman earns, 80 cents is invested into the family unit (for a man, it’s just 30 cents invested into the family unit).

Personally for me, bringing women together with role models, like Samantha, makes anything seem possible. When we have access to role models who speak openly about the highs and the lows; suddenly we don’t feel like we’re in it alone. We become fearless. I truly believe we have opportunities in our generation to be progressive and impactful and compassionate like never before; the future is female. 

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THE DREAMING. by Lilli B

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Lilli shares some of her favourite photographic moments from visiting remote Indigenous homelands in far north-west Queensland and Arnhem Land in Northern Territory, from “Welcome to Country” ceremonies in traditional swimming spots at sunset to empty beaches and secret fishing spots deep in East Arnhem. See More.

CREATE CHANGE CAMPAIGN by Lilli B

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In so many communities I’ve visited with The Boundless Edit, even having chalk to write on a blackboard or electricity to light classrooms can be an issue, so to have the resources for creative classes is just not possible. We endeavour to provide creative classes of various types to classes in the communities we work in. From crafts and drawing in Micronesia and Madagascar, to painting in Uganda and photography lessons in Nepal, we also aim to leave behind as many future resources for the local school teachers to continue the lessons for as long as possible, thanks to our sponsor OfficeWorks.

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THE CASE FOR TRADE OVER AID by Lilli B

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An unpalatable truth for those of us who have worked in the Aid sector - over $500 billon in Aid has been spent by governments and NGOs on the African continent alone since 1970.

While this aid has helped the continent make notable progress in areas such as healthcare and education, unfortunately these gains seem disproportionately small when compared to the amount of money spent. Looking at the bigger picture, the positive impact of Aid to Africa is questionable: fuelling debilitating corruption throughout governments and creating an aid dependency, from government officials right the way down to labourers, are disincentivized to perform.

Working in a number of countries in Africa and around the world, sometimes there’s a sense of the psychology of dependency; and how it is stifling to the entrepreneurial spirit of talented artisans. Of course it is not in NGO’s interests to see the businesses they support fail – and yet this knowledge means that businesses performing poorly are propped up long after markets would have forced them to close. This is why the involvement of the private sector is so important for development in countries like Morocco. When we buy a product from craftsmen and women, they know we are buying that product for one reason only: we think it is a beautiful, high quality product. They also know that if they don’t perform on an order, we will use other suppliers. Get competitive, or lose out - it might seem harsh, but there are no blurred lines in business growth - and that clarity is what businesses need to grow.

The Concept of Patient Capital

Patient Capital works somewhere between a free market approach and a total Aid approach and tries to take the best of both - thinking of low income people not as passive recipients of charity, but as individual customers, consumers, clients who are actively involved in the decision making for their own lives.

All the artisan entrepreneurs we work with could benefit greatly from access to Patient Capitalism - the ability to invest in growing their businesses; everything from purchasing raw materials to ensuring internal infrastructure is within their business to allow their products to be shipped around the world.

The idea of Patient Capital is investment with considered return, for example, a thorough understanding of the difficulties that arise in developing communities that inherently stifle business growth. Part of what we do as TBE is to attempt to eliminate one of those difficulties - the obstacle of marketing for these small businesses and access to quality imagery to promote their products.

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