Project Bly is a new kind of travel, design and lifestyle site that provides a way for its readers to explore and shop the streets and bazaars of the most far-flung cities. Their products are sourced directly from marketplace vendors and include one-of-a-kind, vintage, antiques and handcrafted textiles, home décor and fashion accessories. They feature a new city every couple of months which means a constant ever-changing source of fabulous products!
I love the concept! Let’s learn more about Rena.
When and how did you become a traveler?
The daughter of an American mother and an Indian father, two adventurers who were curious about the world and other cultures, travel was an important part of my childhood. Some of my earliest memories are of family trips; from road trips in India to places like Nepal in 1998 and the former Czechoslovakia in 1990. After I left home for college, I continued to travel, always saving up for my next trip.
On my first solo trip I spent several months backpacking through Guatemala and Honduras. By then I had found my own way of traveling, a slower pace that let me wander the streets of a city without a map, stopping at benches to watch the street life go by. On all my trips I would seek out the best street food and, of course, explore the bustling heart of a city from its fish markets to its flower markets.
What is travel to you in 10 words or less?
Travel is about discovering the everyday secrets of a city.
What is your favorite mode of transportation and why?
I love to explore a city on foot, but if I’m trying to get from city to city, I’m a big fan of trains! I recently took a train from Hanoi to Sapa in the North of Vietnam and it was a wonderful way to see some of the countryside.
What do you typically do while traveling by plane?
I’m a sleeper! I grew up in India, but spent my summers as a child with my mother’s family in Pennsylvania in the U.S., and have flown back and forth to India so many times, that I’ve trained myself to sleep on long flights. I can literally sleep 8 hours on one flight, grab a snack on the layover and fall asleep again on another 8 hour flight.
What is your favorite travel memory involving food?
Aaahhh, food makes up a lot of my travel memories! My favorite might be Nancy’s nyonya laksa, noodles in a spicy coconut broth in Malacca. I ate at her street side stall almost every morning while in Malacca, and my bowl of laksa always came with a smile.
What is one blogging tip or lesson that you have learned along the way that you can share with my readers?
I think with so much content available on the web, having a visual component to a blog post is important. An image gets people hooked, and makes them want to dive into a story.
Thank you Rena, it was so wonderful for you to stop by!
A little more about Rena: Rena Thiagarajan is a former corporate lawyer based in San Francisco who dreamed of combining her two passions – travel and design – into a truly distinctive e-commerce website. That dream will became a reality when she launched Bly, a travel, lifestyle and design website that lets users travel and shop the world’s bazaars and flea markets.
Built around the philosophy that “to really understand a city you must wander its streets,” the Bly experience goes beyond mere searching and purchasing, creating a virtual travel experience by framing hard-to-obtain goods with original photography and putting each object into context with history and story.
Rena oversees all operational aspects of Bly including product sourcing; website design and development; product, lookbook and street photography; marketing and branding; and curating collections to appeal to sophisticated shoppers who hunger for the one-of-a-kind, authentic and hard-to-find items at the heart of Bly.
Keep up with Rena’s travels and the beautiful products visually on Instagram or Pinterest. Follow Project Bly on Twitter and like them on Facebook wherever you choose to keep up with Rena, there will always be something new to see!
San Franciscans: If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area Rena is sharing her new collection from Morroco on Tuesday, April 8th at Legion located at 679 Cly Street from 6-8. I’ll be there and hope to see you too!
How about you? What country would you like to shop?