After 2015 devastated earthquake(8.1M) in Nepal, like all the Nepalese around the world, Two Highschool friends Vik and Raj searched the way to contribute from our sides. The terror and scale of deterioration was far more deep than any media coverage. Many Nepalese were left with dead relatives and witness of wiped out village. We were lucky that our houses were in Kathmandu and at least our relatives had water and food to survive, other's coped with hunger in plastic tents for next several months.
We used several online platforms to contribute what we could . We funded our friend's circle back home who were directly involved in victim reliefs programs. But it was never enough. Deep inside we have a guilt that we have not done enough.For us who were not home, it was like watching our house burn across the river.
So, On the thirst of "Giving Back To Where We Belong" we started a company that would directly help to rebuild a primary school in Sindhupalchowk District. The Dhotar Primary School was the only school in the "Majhi Gaun" means Fisherman Village, aprrox 200 miles from Kathmandu. It was completely destroyed by the earth quake. When we reached the 52 kids were studying in a building with no walls only a rooftop. We also found almost all the people in village are uneducated and living in extreme poverty with a deep problems of alcoholism.
We planned to sell the Nepalese hand made items and help rebuild the school. For this, we collaborated with Old South Church Copley Square Boston. These kind heart-ed people provided space to put our table out and that's how it all started. Bostonian's and the tourist's all over the world showed keen interest in the products especially when we told them that these things are from the land of Himalayas and where Buddha was born.
We didn't knew what exactly to sell so we brought hand knitted woolen products from the women in Kathmandu. These women are 20-25 in group and called themselves "JAGA JYOTI AMA SAMUHA" the mother's group. They belong to lower income family, single mom, or are abused by alcoholic husband. Raj's mother herself lead the group and when we started selling their item, we provided a continuous sustainable income for them. This gave us encouragement. It felt like after living several years in the land of free and equality, back home, we were putting some efforts to break the taboo of women working as bread and butter earner of a house.
Products: What, Where and How...
It was very easy to DBA a business and sell things in streets. But after this first phase, we got into hard road, . We thrive the quality of products in the market. Specially, machine made woolen products from India and China, in the tag of "Made in Nepal" existed everywhere We found "100 % Pashminas. Made in Nepal" sold less than $10 in carts. Things like this was not only misguiding the people but also bad mouthing the Nepalese products. So, we were committed in providing the authentic traditional products those would speak of quality themselves and illuminate the prestige of our country. That is why first we searched for the products that are only and only made/found in Nepal and then for its best quality
Hemp based products are well know to the western world since the hippe trail hit Nepal in 60' and 70's. Hemp itself is the world's strongest fiber. Products made with these should be durable but with the increase of processed Chinese hemp we found "100% hemp, made in Nepal" hemp products are short lived. This is why we only use organic hemp produced in Bajhang and Bajura district of Nepal. Raj designs the back packs with leather and cotton to give the attractive look and durability than any thing found in market.
Singing bowls or meditative bowls were used among Hindu and Buddhist followers since long period of time. In early days they were used to keep household goods, herbs and medicine . Ancient monks and saints used them for meditation. They are made up of Seven metal and these metal have planetary association Gold(Sun), Silver(MoON), Copper(Venus), Iron(Mars), Tin( Jupiter), Mercury(Mercury) and lead (Saturn). While you can find machine made bowls from India and China, Nepalese handmade singing bowls are rear and with distinguish quality. We found that this product is the most exploited in western market for pricing. We have seen up to 300% mark up. Our company is committed to provide best price for these bowls with out compromising the quality.
Nepalese wooden masks:
These Masks specially resembles the Hindu and Buddhist motifs. Specially the masks of god and goddess such as "Bhairav, Ganesh, Mahakali, Buddha, Lakhe" are made to be used in rituals and in sacred days of Hindu and Buddhist follower. It can be made all over Nepal but the best masks are hand made inside the Kathmandu valley in a small district called Bhaktapur (Where I am from) by the indigenous "Newari" people who are well known for their wood working.
Traditional Blade Khukuri:
"Khukuri" is a synonym to Nepalese Gurkha warriors well renowned to world as bravest of the brave.The blade is a national weapon of Nepal and made by spring steels for blade and hard wood, buffalo horn or even ivory for handle, Biswokarma( Kami) caste people were the only one to make these incredible weaponry thorough out the war history of Nepal, but today it is made in wide range. Places like Palpa, and Bhojpur in Nepal are well know for best blades. We only get our khukuri's made from these Kami people rather than largely produced factories. It is an effort of our company to preserve their ancestral profession alive in modern days. The problem for old Biswokarma people are that their newer generation rejected their ancestral work of art due to lack of market. We wanted to revive that culture and preserve it to a extent of self identification.
Just a beginning..........
By being in trade, we realized how the business not only connects the diversity in world but out stands self existence of an individual race and a whole country. It connects the dot between the people, language, culture, religion and their socio-econmic-cultural aspects. Nepal is a very diverse country. Less than 60K sq miles, this tiny Himalayan nation is sandwich between two giants land masses and their influence. It has its own unique religious overlap of Hinduism and Buddhism and it gives the over whelming message of religious tolerance. We want to bring this real picture Nepal to rest of the world through its people and products.
It has 130 plus ethnic groups who speaks 120 plus language. These are the real people with different culture, dress, food, and way of living. In the time globalization, each of these men and women are struggling to preserve their tradition and costumes. We have a vision to touch these people's life and best out of these cultures. The things that will amazed world like Lokta's and khukuris . All these cultures have something unique and amazing and there is so much potential left unexplored. Our company aims to explore these possibilities in future and working with natives to upgrade their livelihood from better schools, water, electricity to the most important factor preserving their ancestral occupation. We want to become an example of a company that touches people in an individual basis and encourages every one to "Give Back to Where they Belong"