As a Nepali woman born and raised in the heart of Kathmandu, growing up in a family in the textiles business, it was evident to me from a very young age that opportunities are limited in Nepal for most women. After searching for the elusive 'perfect job' for most of my 20s, with the support of family, friends and my background in product design and textiles I started this company. I named this company Nivas because it means home, sanctuary or comfort zone in my language. We spend most of our day working at a job or towards something and I wanted the workplace I create for myself and others to be a source of pride, comfort and a second home.
When more women work, economies grow
Being born a female is dangerous in many parts of the world including Nepal. Medical priority and education is often reserved for sons only. In families when there is a shortage of funds or food, girls are often the last to be given a chance to eat. Sometimes even sold by their own family members for less than $10. This is often the reality of many young Nepali girls born in villages and taken to India with the promise of a decent job, only to be sold to the highest bidder. These girls and women often embark on this journey to India, well knowing the risks of being sold into flesh trade, out of desperation for a chance. The rescue work done by Matti Nepal is an inspiration to us. You can read more here.
What if we had enough jobs for women in Nepal? What happens when women and girls are given a chance to stand on their two feet? We have seen again and again that giving women a chance leads to positive ripples, not only their own lives, but in the lives of everyone around them. Children are more likely to stay in school with a working mother. Girl children are married later when a mother earns a living. Entire economies have shifted due to 'The Girl Effect' and the 'The XX Solution'. You can read more here.
Our mission is to provide jobs and train women to become successful in their craft so they can earn fair wages and steady salaries. Helping women is a successful solution to fighting poverty. Often the best thing you can do for someone is give them an opportunity, and in this case, marketable skills and a job. This means they become independent and can live life on their terms.
What about men?
Yes, we hire men as well. We have men that work with us typically in roles such as mixing colors of dyeing processes, ironing, packing shipments and some in management. But we actively look for women to train and to employ in the crafting process.
We source our yarns directly from small farms in Mongolia and China. We have been working with the same farms for two generations. We have built over a decade of relationships with farmers, long before cashmere became a mainstream commodity. We support combing of goat hair instead of sheering, as that is a more comfortable for the goats. It takes almost 4 goats to make a sweater. You can read about the harmful impacts of buying inexpensive cashmere here. You may think you are getting a good deal, but there is irreversible impacts to the makers, the treatment of goats and the environment by supporting production methods that can yield low cost products. The only way to ensure you are purchasing ethical cashmere at affordable prices is to buy directly from manufactures like us, cutting out the middleman. A fair price for a superior product.
There are two major ways of making garments- cut and sew and fully fashioned. Cut and sew is used by the majority of the fashion industry where a fashion designer first sketches a design and the patternmaker creates the patterns. The pattern is cut from fabric and then joined together by sewing the edges with a machine. This method is mostly used with woven fabrics. This process creates tremendous fabric waste in the form of scraps and uses large amounts of water and chemical waste from dyes. The process is Yarn - Cloth/ Fabric - Garment.
Fully fashioned is another way of constructing garments, which is how we make our knits. Panels are knitted into a shape and then attached together by linking them at the edge. The pieces of the garments such as a front, back or sleeve is knitted directly using yarn, instead of having to make cloth or fabrics. This is a more expensive and time consuming way to construct garments but dramatically decreases wastage in the process. There are no fabric "scarps" left as wastage in the process. We only use the amount of yarn we need. The process is Yarn - Garment.
We use little to no electricity in our manufacturing process. We use hand-looms to make our knitwear. The only usage of energy in our entire process is for overhead lighting, ironing, heating up water for dyeing yarn and for making tea during our mandatory mid-day tea breaks.
By eliminating the need to create fabrics, we automatically save on water needs in the manufacturing process as well as limit chemical waste. All of ours dyes are non-toxic (to the maker and the end-user). We import our carefully curated natural dyes directly from Swiss manufacturer Ciba. We are also constantly working on coming up with new practices for better disposal of water used in the dyeing process.
Felting is an ancient way of making textiles. The only materials used are wool, soap, and water. This makes the production process low in impact to the environment and the end product is completely biodegradable. We use a technique called wet felting which is a process where warm water is applied to wool and with repeated compression and hand molding, the wool fibers intertwine together to form the design. A technique called needle felting is used to add details. Our wool is sourced from India and New Zealand and all of our dyes are AZO- free which is free from heavy metal and harmful substances.
Work from home
We are working on initiatives to promote working from home. With stigma against working mothers and the transportation barriers against us, we are hoping to build an infrastructure where our ladies who felt for us can do majority of their work from home and get paid per piece.
Thank you for visiting our website and wanting to learn more about what we do. Should you have any questions or simply want to connect, please email me at email@example.com.