Bringing the past into the present
Long before down jackets and synthetic sleeping bags, people were thriving in harsh Himalayan climates in part thanks to their traditional garments. These were intricately knitted and woven clothing, blankets, and shelters. made using techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Traditionally, families living in the high Himalayas would produce these products themselves using wool from sheep or yak. But due to political, economic, and environmental changes these skills are disappearing. With every year, the effects of globalization are being felt even in the most remote villages. Mass produced products like blankets, jackets, and caps are causing knowledge of these traditional practices to loose value, jeopardizing their chances of being passed on to future generations. These practices not only serve pragmatic purposes such as providing warmth but are also traditional ways of telling stories, histories, and art forms. In order to preserve these traditions, we have trained over 100 knitters with this form. Inspired by centuries old traditions, all of our products are a combination of traditional and modern designs.
Here at Padma we also take a holistic approach when it comes to development. All of our knitters can participate in our micro-loans program, called Dhukuti in Nepali; they are able to borrow up to $200 a month at a 1% interest rate. We also sponsor the education of over 50 of their children. Most recently we have been working with the knitters that were affected by the deadly April 25th earthquake of 2015. We provided much-needed emergency relief in the days following the earthquake and we are currently helping those affected rebuild their homes and water stations.
In a traditional patriarchal society where the majority of women tend to work only in the domestic sphere, knitting serves as a way to gain economic stability and independence. As put by one of our knitters, Kanchi Didi, “I don’t have to ask my husband to buy me a kurtha" ( a traditional garment for women), I can go to the market and buy it myself. I now feel confident in myself as a woman. “
Padma Knits is proud to be a certified fair trade producer by the Fair Trade Federation, USA. All of our knitters’ earnings exceed the local average income.
Nepal has a plethora of religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. We work in a variety of regions, from rural villages, tribal areas, and urban slums. Each region has a group leader who is nominated from within the knitting community and serves as a point person and organizer. You can meet these wonderful women here.
Rather than working in factories with set times, the women work at home and work as much or as little as they require. The knitters are paid on a per piece basis, a price which is set by the knitters themselves.
Made in Nepal
Every year hundreds of thousands of Nepalis travel abroad in search of employment. As a result 25% of Nepal’s GDP comes from remittances. One of the main goals of Padma Knits is to provide opportunities in Nepal to Nepalis that otherwise would not be available.
Founders Kesang and Chimme are children of Tibetan refugees. The two sisters grew up in Nepal, were educated in Asia and America, and were inspired to start Padma Knits by strong family values. Padhma Knits is a Fair Trade Organization that empowers women in Nepal by providing them with opportunities that Kesang and Chimme’s parents and grandparents never had.