Meet Kate Broug, the entrepreneur, philanthropist and climate change activist who’s first trip to Bhutan inspired her to create Anna in Bhutan, a line of luxurious and sustainable silk and cotton scarves.
Sandwiched between China and India, Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world, taking more greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere than it emits (something many nations are struggling to do). Bhutan is an extremely exclusive country and even charges a $250 daily fee for tourist to ensure the environment isn’t spoiled by mass tourism.
Anna in Bhutan scarves are meticulously handwoven in Bhutan by talented female weavers. Each scarf is then brought to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, where each scarf undergoes a unique blessing by high-ranked lamas and monks of the Buddhist faith. It is believed that the blessed scarves will bring its future owner prosperity, harmony and good luck.
We checked in with Kate, founder of Anna in Bhutan to chat about her inspiration behind the brand and why she is so passionate about all that the brand represents.
At what moment did you decide you wanted to start the Anna in Bhutan Brand? Were you physically in Bhutan?
The idea of Anna in Bhutan was born the first time I visited Bhutan. From the moment I arrived, I could feel that this was a truly special country. Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world and a place where people enjoy free healthcare and education. Bhutan’s Fourth King implemented the Gross National Happiness Index which measures collective happiness and well-being of its people – the Bhutanese people are truly warm and compassionate, and imbued by Buddhist values.
I learned that weaving is tradition that has been passed on for generations, and the skills of the Bhutanese weavers are extraordinary. Their weaving is meticulous, precise and they know color. I knew I wanted tocollaborate with these weavers and create a stunning fashion accessory that would serve as a token of Bhutan that I could take home with me. That’s when Anna in Bhutan was born.
What does owning an Anna in Bhutan scarf mean?
Owning an Anna in Bhutan scarf means supporting the values of Bhutan — freedom, equality, and sustainability. Every scarf is unique and handmade by Bhutanese women who weave in the comfort of their own homes. After the weaving process — which can take up to four weeks — the scarves are brought to a Buddhist temple in Thimphu (Bhutan’s capital) where they receive a singular blessing from eight revered Buddhist monks and one Lama.
When I see someone wearing an Anna in Bhutan scarf in the street, I see someone who takes a stand in our current environmental situation, who supports freedom and equality, and who cares about our world. I also see someone who has a refined sense of style and looks very elegant.
What makes the brand so special?
At Anna in Bhutan, we strive to be more than just a fashion accessory line. Anna in Bhutan embraces and supports local culture in Bhutan – we aim to cherish its culture, not change it. Through this line of unique scarves, we want to show how the East can be an example to the West.
Why is sustainability important to you?
I think it is important to make a sharp turn towards the road of long lasting, sustainable fashion. We currently live in a world where fast fashion is prevalent, and clothes are manufactured in bulk by underpaid and under-appreciated laborers. Clothes are often treated with a lot of chemicals, damaging both consumers and factory-workers. At Anna in Bhutan we work with natural fabrics and dies, and with well-paid artisans that weave because they want to, and not because they’re forced to.
Can you share a bit more about your collaboration with One Tree Planted?
One Tree Planted is an environmental charity that focuses on reforestation in America, Asia and Africa. Our collaboration with them is something very dear to me. We want to give back, protect biodiversity, and be active in the fight against climate-change. Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world, and 71% of the country is covered by forest. A collaboration between One Tree Planted and Anna in Bhutan felt like a natural marriage between two initiatives. Our pledge is simple: for every scarf we sell, we plant a tree.
To learn more about Anna in Bhutan and to see the beautiful collection, please visit annainbhutan.com and keep up with them on Instagram @annainbhutan_official.