Artisanal Elements – Made Locally in BVI
Yes, the islands have all of that in copious amounts, but there’s one problem: You can’t take any of it home with you. The tropical island paradise tends to keep those things for itself.
You can, however, take a piece of BVI home by getting some of the unique and traditional artisanal products native to the islands. From spices to soap to jams and jellies, locally made products capture the soul and spirit of these beautiful islands surrounded by an aquamarine sea.
Born in the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Little Bay Distilling Company was opened to send a message of strength and resilience to the islands. Each bottle of BVI gin is distilled at the company’s location near Little Bay Beach on Tortola. Locally sourced botanicals such as hibiscus flower, angelica root and grains of paradise are used. And only traditional methods are employed in making it — small batches are distilled in a custom-made copper still and then bottled and labeled by hand.
Although it’s an essential part of our daily routine, most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about soap. But the folks at EC Soap Co. aren’t “most people.” The company works with local farmers to obtain raw materials in order to hand-make high-quality bath and body products. BVI’s rich resources are utilized, but careful attention is given to reducing waste and saving the land and sea from the effects of harsh chemicals. Whether it’s shampoo, sunscreen, bubble bath, lotion or any other personal care item, all of EC Soap Co.’s products are 100% natural and contain no parabens or sulfates. The company is located in beautiful Road Town on Wickhams Cay 2, but you can order their products online at ecsoapco.com. Choose from such products as aloe cucumber, coconut milk & lavender bubble bath, papaya face mousse, mineral balm, sunscreen, after-sun lotion, mosquito repellent and much more.
Spice It Up
The Caribbean is well known for its spices, as the colonial period saw them brought from the Americas and as far away as the Far East. The climate and soil in this part of the world are perfect for growing a variety of spices, and BVI is no exception. If you like your food to have some kick and personality, pick up some of the locally grown products such as herbs, sweet and hot peppers, ginger root, tied rolls of cinnamon bark, dried sorrel and more. Many shops and open-air markets sell handmade blends that will add a whole new dimension to your cooking and dining. If you’re feeling brave, pick up a Scotch bonnet pepper — considered one of the hottest varieties of pepper in the world.
Lively and Local Art
Maybe it’s the perfect weather or the sublime scenery — whatever the case, the Caribbean islands seem to inspire great arts and crafts. Galleries around Tortola feature works from local artists that include photographs, paintings, carved dolls, jewelry, sculptures, planters, Christmas tree ornaments and much more. The melting pot of people in these islands has led to a wide diversity in styles and media, and you’re guaranteed to find a few things that speak to you — and that you’ll want to bring home.
Perfect for Pottery
If you’re looking for something that’s both practical and beautiful, look no further than the pottery made by BVI’s local artisans. From mugs and vases to bowls and serving trays, local craftspeople are busy each day producing beautiful and unique pieces. And since each piece is handmade, it’s not something you can get at a big box store back home. Add an eclectic flair to your kitchen or an island accent to another room in your home with a colorful, locally made piece of BVI pottery.
Clothing With an Island Vibe
Whether your style is a souvenir T-shirt, flowing sarong or colorful island dress, local artisans ensure that shops and markets throughout BVI are always replete with locally made clothing. If you’re searching for something with an island flair, keep an eye out for something in batik. Originating in Indonesia, batik has long been a part of Caribbean culture. The dyeing process involves the application of wax to various parts of the garment; wherever wax is applied, the dye will not hold. The wax is then removed by boiling water. New wax is applied in different areas, and the dyeing process is repeated. This allows the artist to selectively color the garment with two, three or many colors. Batik clothing, with its intricate patterns and bright colors, is a great way to take the spirit of the islands with you wherever you go.
The local artisans of BVI are proud to display their work, and they’re especially happy when it brings joy to others. It’s difficult to return to “real life” after spending time in such a tropical paradise, but you can keep the vibe alive by taking home a few things made right there on the islands.