Katheryn Kebe and David Fast formed Kebe and Fast Company in 2001, bringing together backgrounds in art, design, business, and a long familiarity with travel throughout South and Southeast Asia. Our goal was to take the time to source India’s astonishing hand-loomed textiles as close to the point of production as possible, and design and manufacture bedding and decor sale in Canada. It is difficult not to be impressed by the scale of the craft tradition in Asia, and the skill of the artisans, and inevitably we expanded our product line to include art, jewelry, and accessories. In order to get around the standard methods of sourcing in Asia—the trade show and the middle man—it takes time. We have structured our business accordingly, spending six months retailing and six months sourcing. Going beyond the accepted paradigm of a brick and mortar storefront, we take our goods on the road throughout B.C.’s Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, and Vancouver Island, setting up a four-day sales event in a temporary space such as a community hall. Having established ourselves in the great tradition of the world’s second oldest profession—traders on the silk road—we have developed communities around the world, and it is our privilege to promote friendship and understanding, artistic appreciation, and economic development by sharing our stories and by dealing in objects of significance and beauty.
About Katheryn Kebe
Conception-ally speaking, I’m Brazilian. After four years in Brazil my family moved home to Calgary, while my mother was pregnant with me. My father’s family arrived in Vancouver as stow-aways on a ship from Cerknica, Slovenia. He financed his engineering degree at U.B.C. as a lumberjack in the mighty forests of British Columbia. My mother’s side left Ireland 7 generations ago. My great grandmother, a widow at 45, took her nine children across Canada to homestead a quarter section in Gunworth, Sask. My parents met in Rosetown Sask., married, had my three sisters, and lived in various parts of the world.
I, seemingly, was born with wanderlust. At a year old, on the day my family moved into our new house, I was found a quarter mile away, eagerly exploring my new environment. From then on, they could never keep me from wandering off.
My mother is an artist, an expert on the chronology of clothing, and a skillful tailor. Through her I absorbed an education in textiles, art, and learned to spot the patterns in colour trends. After the required schooling and studying in arts at university, I began the nomadic lifestyle that suits me still. Moving to Vancouver in 1986, then onto London in 1988, I was invited to house-sit a luxurious Bloomsbury flat belonging to friends—for fifty pounds a month! I soon found living in a foreign culture more stimulating than in my native one. With a love interest in Paris it was my very own “Tale of Two Cities”. After two years I returned home for Christmas, only to be thunderstruck by culture shock. I immediately ran away to Acapulco to work as an illegal immigrant, selling boat tours and teaching scuba diving.
Back in Canada my career as senior server in the dining room in Le Meridien Hotel commenced, followed by 100,000 years serving tables in high-end restaurants. I attempted to launch an art career as well, staging 13 exhibits of my paintings. The flexibility of serving provided a few shorter travel opportunities until 1997, when I embarked for my first year long trip to Asia. Initially intending to backpack the region, I was invited by an Indonesian artist, Agus, to work with him. I stayed in Panangdaran, West Java and painted the better part of the year, studied Bahasa Indonesian, built a gallery with Agus, and had an art exhibit. Agus’ Australian wife, Christina, who ran the Gecko guesthouse where I lived, warned me early on that the cue that I was no longer safe would be when people start rioting for basic food stuffs.
They rioted in Jakarta for cooking oil the day before the show. The next day I rolled up my paintings and fled to the nearest place with an international airport, Bandung, where as rumours flew, violence broke out and the currency continued to collapse. The dictator Suharto seemed to be loosing control of the military. Within the week I was on a flight out. Two months later Suharto’s government fell. It was my “Year of Living Dangerously”.
Three years later David and I, on our first date, decided to travel to India together for six months, in six months’ time. Returning to Vancouver, our relationship having thrived on the trials of traveling on a motorbike in India, we set about establishing our new business idea of importing textiles and designing high end bedding. In mid 2005 I hung up my apron for good (I hope and prey), and we both committed ourselves full time to the business as it is now.
I feel there is another odd point I must bring up. Largely due to finding many of my closest friends from within the gay community, I have lost an unusually high number of people over the years. Between friends and many family members there have been more than forty people who were close to me die. It’s a hard lesson to see friends fall so young, but all of it made me realize there are no guarantees, and we better be living our lives to the fullest, in case we do not get that long. This is not a dress rehearsal, people!
About David Fast