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Our Story

Beyond These Beautiful Shawls…

The weave you see of our shawls is a lot more beautiful than the spaces in which they are woven – and that’s why we do them. They’re handwoven in Nepal, that misses the methodical multiplication of its neighbour China carried over into mass delivery. These Cashmeres are, as we went to see for ourselves and as we invite you to see for yourselves here, the exquisite output of families in Kathmandu still struggling to cope with the devastation of the 2015 earthquake.

That gives us fewer shawls but individual pieces: no two look quite like one another. The makers (we won’t call them manufacturers) can then give us just the texture and colours we look for. Just a few people with their hand operated looms in little spaces here and there, the way it used to be, before factories next door began to spin for malls.

When the warm style of these shawls brings us that unique look, it reawakens enterprise in these little corners of Kathmandu. A portion of
the proceeds is given to the children at the Destitute and Orphan Children Safeguarding Foundation.

 

Learn more and donate directly at Docsfnepal.org

Call it a shawl, of course, but call it also goodness all round.

Made with the finest cashmere in Nepal on hand looms with lock finishing.
Each piece is unique and has its own personality.

For more information on availability of colors and payment options please email

yazemeenah@yazemeenah.com

 

The Wall

During my first trip to Katmandu, I was visiting the manufacturer of my shawls, the building was recently rebuilt after the 2015 earthquake, in a minimalist fashion, modern architecture, and I noticed an unfinished concrete wall in the staircase. I was immediately attracted to its raw beauty. I was taking some self-portraits in front of the wall when I had a vision of it printed on a shawl, the concrete wall with its natural colors looked like a modern abstract painting!

I asked if they could do a print of this wall, I took the photograph of it and they made it!

And my first fine art photograph hand-printed on Cashmere and on Silk was born.

To my surprise with the handcrafting of the wonderful artisans, it took a deeper dimension becoming like a beautiful organic natural landscape.

The wall, for me, is a beautiful symbol of rebirth, symbolizing the reconstruction after a disaster and it is even stronger meaning because it is the wall of the hand-printed manufacturer itself.

These hand-printed shawls are available in woven Cashmere or Silk, in various colors and black and white shades.

The Hands

 

During this same trip in Katmandu, another wall inspired me for the design of my second hand-printed shawl.

As a social entrepreneur, I always desired to create a small collection with artisans, I wanted not only for the opportunity of providing income to the community, but I also wanted to give them back a percentage of the profits to support their community.

The Universe brought me exactly the right connections while being there to respond to me desire.

I met Lila Dhar Bhandari, the founder of the Docs Foundation association. He an orphan himself, along with his wife, takes care of this little orphanage in Kathmandu. They care for around 45 children from the very young to adults, giving them shelter, food, education until they can find work.

During my first visit at the orphanage, Lila asked me if I could do a portrait of each of the children.

While I was looking for a background where the afternoon light would be great for the shooting, I saw the only place where the light was right, in the garden, a wall that was in fact the wall of the playground.

When I got closer to the wall, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was covered with all the handprints of the children in bright colors!

Instantly, I had the vision of the second shawl!

I photographed all the children individually and then took a picture of the wall that you can see here.

The Fabrics

 

Cashmere Fibers

This Cashmere wool is collected in a cruelty free method by combing the goats rather than shearing them. Combing the goats protects the animal and the fibers. This is the way of ethical manufacturers because their livelihood also depends on the goats.

The practice is evident in the feel and durability of the cashmere, because it is combed; the length of the staple is longer which makes it softer. The Cashmere is also categorized based on micron level, the finer the micron the better the wool.

When Cashmere fiber is sheared, the fiber is destroyed, the staple length is shorter, which means the fabric doesn’t last and wears out quickly. Shearing a goat can also harm the animal and the practice is often done in the winter, which can lead to death from the extreme cold.

The health of the goat matters; the healthier they are the better their coat, which makes for the finest cashmere.

This cashmere is ethically sourced and cruelty-free, making them the finest and longest lasting cashmere, you will enjoy for many years to come.

 

Yak Fibers

Yak wool fibers are also collected by combing.

Yaks live at very high altitudes, in the Himalayas, in winter; they grow a thick coat of three layers of hair. The third layer is like a down layer under the two outer coarser layers of hair. This downy layer keeps them warm and is extremely soft.

At the end of spring into early summer, they shed this third downy coat. The hair can be collected by combing to make fibers. Yak hair is very soft, it is a sustainable fiber, with natural antibacterial properties, it is breathable, and odor resistant.

Yaks are a sacred and protected animal for indigenous people of these countries. The native people care and treat these animals well because their life, safety, and protection depend on the yaks. Most of their supplies to create their usual tools and artistry come from Yaks.

 

The Manufacturers

I spent time getting to know my manufacturers. I know their practices and I am confident in their ethics and values where the animals are concerned. These manufacturers, also produce for high-end brands, designers, and offer the best quality of service and materials.

 

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