Have Passport, Will Decorate

Photo from projectbly.com

Photo from projectbly.com

Individuality is everything when it comes to décor---do we really relate to home accessories from a Crate or a Barn? And the fantasy for any traveler is to fill her house with souvenirs of peripatetic adventures, from Mumbai to Marrakesh, and beyond.  

That's the philosophy of San Francisco resident and long time wanderer Rena Thiagarajan who brings her bent for far flung bargaining to Bly, an online bazaar filled with one-of-a-kind objects culled from cities around the world. Thiagarajan is originally from Chennai (formerly Madras) on India’s east coast and has backpacked through 40 countries and has perused her fair share of  bustling markets for Bly.

“Bly lets users discover unique objects and the special places that they’re from,” said Thiagarajan. “Our customers will value the virtual travel experience that they’re able to enjoy each time they browse the site, complete with striking photography and insider travel tips and anecdotes.”

Every two months, Bly invites shoppers to venture to a new market. The opening collection from Mumbai, India features roughly 200 items including enamel frames ($110-$120), vintage saris ($245), rare Hundi lamps ($550) and even a 19th century Kabuliwallah rug ($3,100). In coming months, travelers can browse the bazaars of La Paz (Bolivia), Kumasi (Ghana) Malacca, (Malaysia) Berlin (Germany), and Bukhara (Uzbekistan).

As a female wanderer, I love the name. Bly pays homage to Nellie Bly (pseudonym of Elizabeth Cochran) the 19th-century American journalist who once set a record for traveling around the world in 72 days---just to prove she could do it better than Jules Verne's book that did it in 80. You go girl!

Thiagarajan and Bly (the woman and the site) inspire us to enjoy the journey at a slower pace.  Poke into shops, speak to people, and uncover the essence of place via its grand boulevards and tiny lanes, and everything in them. 

Then fill your home with their perennial treasures.

Follow Bly on Facebook www.facebook.com/projectbly and on twitter @projectbly

Photos borrowed from projectbly.com

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Kimberley Lovato

Kimberley Lovato has written about travel, lifestyle and food for national and international publications and websites including National Geographic Traveler, Executive Travel, American Way, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveller (UK), Ryan Air, b.there, Easy Jet Traveller, leitesculinaria.com and frommers.com, among others. She is the author of a Michelin Guidebook on Brussels, where she lived for six years Her culinary travel book, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, about the Dordogne region of France, won the "Best Travel Book" nod in 2012 from the Society of American Travel Writers, as did her personal essay, "Lost and Liberated," which also appeared in Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 8. When she's not plotting her next trip or her annual pilgrimage to France, she resides in San Francisco where she is a correspondent for BBC's Passport Blog, a student in Stanford University's Creative Writing Certificate program, and a brave mother of a teenaged girl.