In 2014, we wandered down an alley in Patan’s Durbar Square and wandered into the surprising studio and passion project of Pravin Chitrakar called Yala Mandala. As CEO and Founder, Chitrakar has spent nearly 29 years growing his collective, with the intention of perpetuating local cultural heritage, promoting it on an international level and lifting up local art and artisans.
Craft Yala is one of four different companies under Yala Mandala, with a focus on high-end jewelry that is inspired by local art, culture and heritage. The metal-smiths that produce all of MULXIPLY’s jewelry have a space with a garden in the middle so they can work in an airy space with ventilation and sunshine. It is details such as this that demonstrate Pravin Chitrakar’s investment in the people he works with.
Two indispensable people on Pravin’s team are Mahendra and Julia. Mahendra started as a security guard for Pravin’s studio and, after confessing his desire to study metalsmithing to his boss, became one of Yala Mandala’s finest artisans. We also love that Pravin’s sister, Julia, is Yala’s Chief Financial Officer. She is a calm, yet driving force in the business, and is a fierce advocate for women’s rights in Nepal.
We were introduced to Bijaya "Bj" and his team of leatherworkers in 2015 and were struck by the extraordinary talent of their team. Working in a family-style atelier slightly off the beaten path in Kathmandu, their set-up makes sense, as it is a family-run business. Their primary objective is to simultaneously provide high quality leather goods and also provide a healthy work atmosphere for their employees.
Bj was born in a remote mountain village near the Tibetan border. Without much of a "normal" education, he fell in love with leather crafting and taught himself how to make "things". He's extraordinarily talented with an eye for design and detail. Bj met his wife Maya (who is from the Netherlands) while she was volunteering in Nepal. Maya now runs the business side of things and together they are growing a successful business creating designs for local hotels and shops as well as designers around the globe, MULXIPLY included. We admire and supports AKU’s dedication to creating a nurturing workspace which epitomizes "slow fashion".
Starting with just 10 employees in 1994, our felting team has blossomed into a globally-accessed company of approximately 500, providing dignified work opportunities particularly for women in both rural and urban areas of Nepal. This design-focused handicraft business promotes eco-friendly, fair trade practices, supporting the national economy by promoting export of Nepalese craft to counteract the import-based economy. 80% of of their artisans are women.
Our partner's focus on creating employment opportunities for women to become self-dependent and therefore less susceptible to human trafficking caught our founder's attention when seeking to find a felting group that is not only talented and reliable but also transparent in their practices. We have been so impressed with the joy seen among the artisans, the bright workshops and the ethos set forward by the leadership. "If they are happy, we are happy!".
Our Pom Pom Slippers, hand-felted animals and the wool sheets for our bags are all made by this team.
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