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Secret Ships Lets You Shop the World Without Leaving Boston

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You may have noticed Secret Ships, Boston's chicest shop on wheels, parked on the Greenway or at the SoWa market on Sundays. If you haven't yet spotted the wood-paneled caravan, or Natalie Lachalle and Sara Hartmann, the ladies steering the ship, you're missing out on a world of internationally-sourced supplies ranging from jewelry and wearables to treasures for the home.

Follow Secret Ships on Facebook each week for where to find the shop, and keep reading for the inside scoop about their travels.

What was the greatest trip you've ever taken?

Natalie: My favorite trip has been to Puerto Rico, to an island called Culebra. You have to take a ferry to get there, and it's its own little tropical world, full of expats and Deadheads. It's endearing—and the stunning landscape is reason enough to make the trip.

Sara: My favorite was when I gave it all up and backpacked around the world with my husband. I also loved Istanbul and Vietnam; both are sensory overloads! I love being immersed in a place that feels really connected to preconceived notions but it's also a whole other world with lots of local character.


Kuchi tribeswomen in Afghanistan. Image: Sara Hartmann

Where is the hardest place to travel for your buying trips, and why?

Sara: The most challenging place so far is Morocco. It's really hard to know when the real negotiating begins, and the selling style is so aggressive that it's hard to get past the merchants and just look at the goods. For me, where to go and what to look at based on the least aggressive sales people.

And, a lot of people lie about being a craftsperson or being a wholesaler just to make a sale. I was worried that I would have trouble finding people to wholesale, but everyone pretends to be a wholesaler and you invest time and energy just to find they weren't serious about setting anything up.

What's your favorite item from your online store?

Natalie: I love the cotton Kantha quilts. They're hand-embroidered in India.

Sara: My favorite is the Afghan Kuchi jewelry. I love the onyx pieces, made from recycled, melted down coins.—Renata Certo-Ware
· Secret Ships [Official Site]