Monday 21 February 2011

One Month Into Production

With more than one month of our production period behind us, we still have so much to do. The weather has been very kind so far with plenty of warm sunny days, which makes getting around the city slightly easier. Our frequent trips to the North and South of the city are necessary as we have to check hand loomed fabric, hand crocheted samples and deliver them the our pattern master and tailors.
We do a lot more running around than your average buyer as we feel the need to pay attention to the smallest details in each of our garments. Everything from buttons to tags are designed by us and produced by specialists in those fields. 
With a few garments completed, we are starting to see samples of our designs come to fruition. Natural dyes are not commonly used in Nepal's garment industry due to the labour involved and the expense. If consumers put a little more thought into where their clothings' colour comes from and the environmental costs involved, consumer demand could have the power to encourage many dye houses to make the switch from synthetic dyes to natural dyes.
During the UK festival season, we often meet other stall holders with Nepalese goods who seemed surprised that our products are from Nepal. I think the main reason for this is that our focus on natural dyes, attention to detail and original designs make our products quite different from those found in almost every shop in Kathmandu. The number of shops in a small area selling the same items has always intrigued me. Surely this can't be good for business and I know it isn't as interesting for customers. The type of shops you can find time and time again tend to be felted goods and knitwear in bright synthetic colours, trekking shops selling varying qualities of fake branded sleeping bags, backpacks and clothing. Many of the clothing shops have the same designs as each other and don't seem to change year after year. I guess their attitude is that the customers are constantly changing, so the designs don't need to. Originality is hard to find here and if you do come up with a new business idea, if successful, it will be copied by the surrounding shops. In Nepal, copyright means the right to copy!!
Todays photographs have been specially chosen to contrast with the photographs of the last blog entry. Once out of the busy dusty city, areas of natural beauty are hard to miss. The top photo is a view of the Himalayas from Nargokot and the second photo was taken at the top of Monkey Temple. Last weeks lightening hit this temple as it is the city's highest point. The white stone pillar on the left was badly damaged, but fortunately nobody was hurt as the lightening struck at around 4am.
Swayambunath (Monkey Temple) would not be the same without the large population of monkeys that don't seem to mind fairly close contact with humans (pictured below).