As founder of What The Traveler Saw, Laurel Stradford incorporates her international experiences developed over a lifetime of travel both personally and professionally as Revlon International’s London based Executive Director for Special Programs for Africa and Europe. While living overseas Laurel wrote a book illustrating her travels called What The Traveler Saw.
Mayor Daley, with others at our first store in Garfield Park
13 years later, upon returning to the United States in 1999 her shop was born by the same name. With her photographers’ eye for the unusual with great detail, Laurel selects items that will enhance the home and satisfy your gift giving needs. Many items are created by and in support of fair trades communities for schools, hospitals and housing around the world. And as an image/design consultant, her team helps organize and beautify homes with the unique goods she's identified.
Laurel began traveling at an early age. Her love of the earth inspired by a wall map on her bedroom wall as a child. Learning the names of far off places coupled with the exotic stories from Alladin and 1001 Nights and Omar Khayyam’s Ruba’iyat gave way to imaginings that plague her still. The idea of Wonders of the World drives her to visit them, whether ancient, modern or man-made.
Ougadougo, Timbuktu, Chapultapec Park, Kinshasa, Brazzaville, Zambouanga are all names that were important to her from the time she was a pre teen. Traveling early with her mother, Laurel learned to love and appreciate the difference in people and as a consequence learned to see the connections in all the world’s people.
Majoring in photography and comparative cultures completed the path that has brought her to see the sameness between the weavings of Africa with the patterns in Native American baskets. Moving around has made her a bit of a gypsy, picking up this thing and that to illuminate a life full of destinations and time changes.
Laurel often lectures on the need and way to travel lightly and safely, especially for women. She feels completely at home on the road alone with certain precautions and looks forward to planning trips for you and your group. Her recent mantra, “I’ve lived to roam, but am always happy to come home.”
Come see What The Traveler Saw
…check on our planned adventures and send us your email for inclusion in our mailings.