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Brick by brick

Coming from the southern part of Germany we were taught one thing: “Work hard, work hard, build your own little house.” However, this wisdom seems to be twisted in northern Thailand – or have we misunderstood something? The wisdom in Germany should be terminologically correct: Work hard, work very hard and maybe work even a little bit harder to have enough money to be creditworthy to pay off the loan for the next 30 years that you need for the construction company that will build your dream of your home.

What is lost in the process? Time, you – and of course the fun.

We were looking for a more pragmatic approach and found what we were looking for. Our trip takes us to Mae Tang near the Mae Ngat Dam, about 2 hours north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Jon Jandai (Phi Joe) founded the Eco Community Pun Pun about 20 years ago and is the pioneer in clay house construction in Thailand.

According to Phi (the Thai name for big brother) Joe, building a mud house is the easiest way to build a house, anyone can do it. Adults can do it, children can do it – you can do it! All you need is your body…and if we build a house in less than a year and for less than 10,000 USD, we have saved almost 29 years. How one wants to offset 29 years of life in Dollars is quite a difficult and philosophical question.

So let´s get started before we lose more time and build a new clay house for Nate and Phi Yao.

The place Nate and Phi Yao have chosen for their mud house is picturesque. Surrounded by rice fields and the southernmost foothills of the Himalayas, every sunrise and sunset are an experience. The natural swimming lake/water reservoir, which was built last year, create an indescribable ambience. Young and inquisitive people from over 20 countries have come to learn and help them build their new home.

At the beginning we stand in a huge mud hole (former rice field), whose contents are to be transformed into a single-family house. How can you do that? Very simple: mix clay, dried rice husks, sand and water and tread until it becomes soft. The creamy earth mass is then poured into moulds, set up for drying and needs to be observed. If there are large cracks when the bricks are sun-drying, there is too much clay in the material. If they burst into thousands of individual parts during the crushing test on the ground, the proportion of sand must be worked on. Local soil conditions are different all over the world and trial and error is the only way to success. That being said, at the end of our time we made more than 6,000 clay bricks and quickly got a good feeling for the perfect mixture.

Then, brick by brick, the walls are gradually build. A mortar made of clay, sand and a rice husk mix is used as a binding agent. The 5-meter-wide and 3-meter-high arches were also very interesting to build. First a wooden construction was made, which holds the clay bricks until they support and strengthen themselves by their own weight. A string and a nail for centering the arc and a few stones for adjusting the angle of the clay bricks are enough to build such a masterpiece. Of course, we are particularly proud of the last stone.

After almost two weeks, we managed to finish half of the house and learned how to mix plaster and clay paint from the above components. For practical reasons, not all elements of the house were built from natural and local materials. Experience has shown that termites in Thailand make it impossible to lay a loamy soil and foundation, or a durable roof construction made of wood. That is why we have used concrete for the foundation and metal for the roof construction. We at virblatt are thrilled to have learned this old way of building houses. It was an indescribable event to stand in our self-built natural walls, which continuously absorb and release water (humidity) and heat to have a pleasant room climate all year round. We are impressed by the possibility that everyone can build their own four walls from natural resources. And we are grateful to have met all the loving and interesting people during this workshop. It is indescribable what a close relationship you build with people and materials in a short time when you work together on such a valuable project: We built a house!

Life is easy!

think about it.


True story

We are often asked why some of our products are sold out. From the customer’s point of view, this may seem somewhat peculiar in a market economy. But there is a specific and important reason for this.

We work with small family businesses that lovingly make our alternative clothing at home or in a small community building. Some of our producers also belong to ethnic minorities of the Hmong, Lizu, Karen and Naga, who weave or embroider decorative elements in particular. These detailed processes take time. Errors can happen everywhere, but stress and time pressure in particular contribute to them.

Now you ask yourself, why not employ more people when the demand is there?

Admittedly, we have often asked ourselves the same question.

But there are two convincing reasons for this. On the one hand, people who are capable of this special craftsmanship are not to be found everywhere. On the other hand, we are in a seasonal business. Especially in summer we need more production capacities than in winter. If we employ more people in the summer, we cannot guarantee their jobs during winter. This would leave families with problems and challenges and employees could not rely on us. This is exactly what we avoid.

Our company currently consists of only eight employees, but we are not only responsible for these eight people and their families. No, also our suppliers, their employees, their families, even people who produce the fabrics depend to some extent on us. We also see our suppliers and their employees as our employees and virblatt family members for whom we are committed. That is why we focus on sustainable growth and identify ourselves with the Slow Fashion philosophy. Products manufactured with love, which give our customers pleasure for a long time.

Instead of putting pressure on our friends and suppliers, we have decided to give you, our customers and friends, more insights into our production. In the future you will find a label on each of our products that will tell you more about the wonderful people who made the product. This will be rounded of by interviews and videos. You may be curious. In addition, we are now increasingly posting when products that are often in demand are available again. This way you as our companions are always up to date and can get a specific garment you wished for.

We are by no means perfect and do not know whether this is the right way. But we owe it to ourselves, our families, like-minded people and in principle all people who live together with us on this wonderful earth, to give everything and every day to make our business more sustainable.

think about it.


Andreas Reich | Production Management | virblatt GmbH



The new virblatt magazine “Hammock”

Do you want to know who is in our hammock?

Get inspired by Elena and Matteo, who share their thoughts about a fascinating alternative lifestyle. Dive deeper into the diverse cultures of Southeast Asian hill tribes, discover the best places in and around Chiang Mai and meet the beautiful traveling soul Mali Pah.

A long story short….

This is the story of virblatt. The story of what became our business. The story of our life and what it became the past couple of years….

As many others, we wanted to see the world, so we figured Asia would be a good start. As four young travelers, we did what many other travelers do: We booked a flight to Bangkok – the gateway to Asia. To make it really exciting for us – and our parents – we didn´t book anything else in advance. And it turned out to be a good idea. When spending days in Bangkok you meet the greatest variety of travelers that you can think of. All of them have their story to tell. And of course, they also share their routes, so you can finally make up your mind where you to spend your holidays. So we ended up passing some nights in busses and night trains (saving time and money for a night in a real bed in a bungalow) to see nice beaches, eat every kind of food the food stalls have to offer, visit national parks, viewpoints, waterfalls, elephants, snake shows, monkey shows, crocodile shows – there are shows for nearly everything… and yes we saw that one as well.

Meanwhile we filled up our backpack with cheap clothes that would last until our next journey. And there was one thing no traveler seemed to miss: the most comfortable clothing ever. Drop crotch pants made their way into our lives.

Until this point nothing differs from a journey to Thailand that many tourists experience year by year. But we returned home with an idea that would change our lives in the long run. While we were studying and working, we bought some more harem pants with the plan to sell them in the internet.

Die_ 2_Bestellung_Haremshosen

We did everything for the first time: We shipped a box of harem pants to Germany, we imported them, we counted and categorized them, we made photos and created offers for them. We started with less than 100 pants that we bought in a shop in one of the big shopping malls in Bangkok putting them in ebay auctions to see what people would be willing to spend on them. And it worked… we reinvested everything to buy new pants to set up a small Online Shop to create the brand bonzaai. We did this for a very long time, working for fun and not for money.

While our brand was growing we were always curious about one thing: Where do our products come from? So travelling soon became a mission. We met the people behind our clothes: We met Thai families that set up tailoring facilities in their backyards and Asian hill tribes in remote areas, that are known for the weavings and embroideries used for their traditional clothing. Meeting the people behind our products also gave us the chance to design and create our own styles combining alternative clothes with traditional elements creating a unique style.

We not just expanded our sales of harem pants but also our travel radius. Actually, we only wanted to go trekking in the mountains to get away from the business life we created around us – not to mention that we were still caught up in studying and working to earn our livings (our own business was still exclusively our passion). Nepal seemed like the perfect place to get out of the fast-moving daily business with its great Himalayan mountain ranges. And it turned out to be a perfect place for alternative clothes as well. Suddenly we found ourselves in the Nepalese business world: faster, louder and dirtier than in Thailand. After getting to know the Nepalese tailors – we also wanted to know where the products in the streets of Kathmandu come from – we were offered Nepalese hospitality when we were invited to our new friend’s home for dinner.

Since our suppliers became more international, we figured we can do the same. We expanded our sales internationally and created a new brand: virblatt. virblatt is for people like us. People with an alternative lifestyle. People that care where their products come from. Do you want to know where your product comes from?

virblatt – think about it.

Dankeschön für deinen ersten Wasserfilter

Unser erster BioSand Wasserfilter Mit der wunderbaren Funktion den Einkaufsbetrag in unserem Online Shop für Haremshosen und Alternative Bekleidung auf aufzurunden, konnten wir die gesammelten Spenden für unseren ersten BioSand Wasserfilter nutzen. Der Wasserfilter der Rain Tree Foundation wurde in dem von „Projects for Asia“ geleiteten Internat, in der Nähe von San Kampheng, Chiang Mai, installiert. Dort werden jetzt rund 25 Kinder mit sauberem Trinkwasser versorgt.

Unser erster Wasserfilter
Der älteste BioSand Filter dieser Art versorgt bereits seit über 20 Jahren Menschen mit sauberem Trinkwasser. Der Filter zeichnet sich durch sehr geringe Wartung, Langlebigkeit, einfache Handhabung und qualitativ hochwertiges Trinkwasser aus.

Ein weiteres aktuelles Projekt, für das wir die aufgerundeten Spenden sammeln, ist der dringend benötigte Zaun für das Kinderdorf der CFI Internationalen Kinderhilfe „Kirsten Jade Rescue Center“ in Chiang Mai. Mit einem neuen Zaun soll den Kindern mehr Schutz gewährleistet werden.

Ein neuer Zaun für das Kirsten Jade Rescue Center wird benötigtSpenden für einen neuen Zaun für das Kirsten Jade Rescue CenterEin neuer Zaun für das Kirsten Jade Rescue Center wird benötigt

Wir freuen uns über deinen Einkauf und natürlich über deine Spende.

Bonzaai in Kathmandu

Das war ein “Urlaub”! Wir konnten es mal wieder nicht sein lassen: “Wir haben es schon wieder getan.” 🙂

Kaum sind wir in Kathmandu, Nepal gelandet, fielen uns die vielen Traveller Läden auf. Die Straßen des Backpackerviertels Thamel sind mit Trekking Shops und Läden für Menschen eines etwas alternativeren Lebensstils gesäumt.

Das passt genau zu uns!!!

DSCF9188  DSCF9189

Also sind wir weiter durch die engen Gassen gezogen und haben nach neuen Haremshosen Ausschau gehalten. Sofort fiel uns ein kleiner Laden mitten im täglichen Gewirr der Hauptstadt Nepals auf. Der freundliche Verkäufer Rajan hat uns bei einem Masala Tee mit Milch beraten und wir hatten sofort ein gutes Gefühl.

DSCF9227 DSCF9191

Im Gegensatz zu Thailand laufen die Geschäfte hier etwas zügiger ab. Kurze Zeit später (etwa 4 weitere Treffen) war unsere Bestellung aufgegeben und auch mit den gestickten Labels sind wir absolut zufrieden.

Jetzt muss nur noch der Versand geklärt werden. Was ein Glück das Rajan’s Bruder Ramesh eine Speditionsfirma leitet. Der Firmenname “Superstar Cargo” hat uns sofort überzeugt. Das kann ja nur weltmeisterlich sein. 🙂


So, jetzt konnte der Urlaub beginnen! Ok noch nicht ganz, wir haben uns noch in Wollpullover verguckt, die perfekt zu den kalten Wintermonaten in Deutschland passen. Bestellen, produzieren und versenden. So jetzt aber endlich Urlaub. Die Berge Nepals können kommen!!

Alles wird demnächst online auf verfügbar sein.



Wir sind umgezogen und freuen uns, unseren neuen Firmensitz am wunderschönen Bodensee zu haben.

Zu diesem Anlass möchten wir unser Wissen mit ein paar interessanten Fakten über den Bodensee vertiefen:

– Der Bodensee wurde schwimmend in der Länge zum ersten Mal im Jahr 2013 bezwungen.

– 2007 sprangen mehr als 50 “Bodensee-Borats” in Friedrichshafen ins Wasser.

– In der Bodenseeregion befindet sich das zweitgrößte Apfelanbaugebiet.

– Der Bodensee könnte den weltweiten Gesamtwasserbedarf zwei Tage decken.

Und neben all dem Stuss, gibt es natürlich noch wirklich gute Gründe am Bodensee zu sein:

Der Bodensee ist nicht nur der größte See Deutschlands, sondern auch der Schönste!

Wir sind umgezogen_Bodensee

Das erste Mal ist noch lange nicht vorbei…

Wir freuen uns natürlich riesig über unsere erste Lieferung. Doch jetzt sehen wir erst die ganzen Ausmaße unseres Vorhabens. Und wir wollten uns nach erfolgreicher Bestellung, Lieferung und Einfuhr schon auf die Schultern klopfen. Jetzt haben wir einen Haufen Hosen, die erst mal verkauft werden müssen. Wir nutzen also eines unserer gemeinsamen Wochenende zum arbeiten… neben unserer täglichen Arbeit. Die Hosen werden gezählt, sortiert, kategorisiert, bekommen auserwählte Namen, werden fotografiert und bearbeitet, einsortiert, noch mal gezählt und noch mal gezählt und noch mal… Und dann kann es endlich passieren: unsere erste Hose wird über ebay verkauft!!!!!



Unser erstes Mal

Nervenkitzel pur! Ab nach Stuttgart und eine Verzollung durchführen – wie auch immer so etwas geht. Aber wir haben es geschafft: bonzaai ist entjungfert!Lieferung_bonzaai_haremshosen

Die Spannung steigt je näher wir nach Hause, nein zu unserem Firmensitz, kommen: „Was ist in dem Paket wirklich drin?“. Unsere Namen stehen schon mal auf der Reissackverpackung drauf…. Die Aufregung ist kaum auszuhalten. Wir müssen erst mal ein Schluck Bier trinken. Und weil wir warten müssen, bis alle da sind, gibts noch Pizza.

lieferung_bonzaai_haremshosenDann ist es endlich soweit: Wir sind alle zusammen und können aufreißen, auspacken und uns freuen!

Alles erledigt. Hoffentlich!

Naja, wir werden es sehen. Wir können unseren Lieferanten über ein paar Ecken kontaktieren, zum Glück gibt es weitere bekannte Thailand Urlauber, die uns vor Ort würdig vertreten können – Danke Oli.

bonzaai_creation_by_keastwoDie Ware ist bestellt und… wir haben einen Namen: bonzaai. Eigentlich steht er schon eine Weile im Raum, aber man muss ihn dank kreativer Unterstützung von Keastwo erst mal vollkommen falsch schreiben und sich dann erwischen wie man bei Google nach Bonzaai sucht und sich wundert warum er fragt „Meinten Sie: Bonsai?“ um zu wissen, DAS IST ER! Ab jetzt können wir endlich unser Gefühl beim Namen nennen, unsere Euphorie und unsere Freude und unseren Stolz ist bonzaai. Wir sind bonzaai!