A colorful, mostly-India import bazaar in the heart of the Railroad District, Hill Station offers a dazzling array of unique, hand-made, folk art as home décor and apparel accessories.
Located at the corner of 4th and A streets in Ashland, Hill Station dedicates itself to preserving the works of creative folk all over the world, with 70 percent of it from India, says owner Farinaz Wadia, a native of a fishing village on India's west coast.
How did you get here?
My husband Travis Luther and I met in Bombay in 1987, when he was an exchange student. He’s a native of Washington state. We tried living in Washington, but the months of drizzling rain inspired us to locate in Ashland seven years ago. We loved the cosmopolitan flair here. We have a daughter Aisha. We opened Hill Station two years ago and also, as Indika, sell goods on the Internet and at trade shows.
What is your goal and mission at Hill Station — and where does the name come from?
In India, during the British times, they would escape the heat at small communities up on hilltops. Here, artisans had the opportunity to directly present one-of-a-kind folk art of rural India. With mechanization and mass markets, these crafts are being lost. It’s heartbreaking. We want to help preserve them with fair trade, meaning we pay them what they ask and we don’t support any sweatshops or child labor.
What’s for sale now at Hill Station?
Pillows, linens, tapestries, scarves, ceramics, baskets, gallery art, both local and from all over the world. These tiny cars are handmade from tin cans in Madagascar. These fish are made from oil drums in Haiti. The hand-embroidered muslin tunic is from Pakistan. The mosaic bronze elephants with mirrors are from India.
How is it working selling unique items?
At trade shows, buyers will ask for 60 of something, but we sell only one-of-a-kind. Each product stands on its own. The tapestries became so popular in the 1960s that most became mass-produced but we sell only the unique ones, hand-stamped, so the craft is carried on with dignity and pride the flame of tradition for more generations. The products all have beauty, durability, authenticity. You won’t find the goods or prices you see at Pier One or Wal-Mart. These are an homage to a time when people worked more slowly and created with great quality.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.