The mother daughter team of Rupa & Sarah are heading straight to the top in the world of wool, at least in Kathmandu. This is the second installment of the Things Made With Hands series, where I am highlighting some amazing folks who, in this day of technology and automation, are still crafting the old fashion way – with their hands.
Rupa got into the business over 10 years ago working on a loom to create yarn from raw wool. She couldn’t say the exact moment it happened, but something about knitting appealed to her. She recalled a feeling that was missing as she worked the loom, she never felt finished. But that elusive feeling is ever so present in knitting – when a sweater is done, its done. Theres a tangibility to a sweater that can be appreciated. I know I certainly can appreciate a sweater. Rupa told a story about her first piece that she made – it was a pink and white handkerchief for her husband. At the time, white yarn was easy to come by so like all good crafts people, she made use of what she had.
Today Rupa is on a hot streak. She is training and managing the workers of Kathmandu’s Planet Wool as well as starting her own side business ‘Rising Star Wool.’ With the goal of being known for making the highest quality wool products she is sourcing the finest locally made yarns and for the time being each product will be made either by Rupa or her daughter, Sarah. But Rupa isn’t blindly looking towards the future, she took the time to mention what she has seen as the biggest change in the business over the last decade – competition and the resulting demand for higher quality. The amount of competition in Nepal has exploded in a direct relationship with its tourism. The demand for exported Nepali goods has increased exponentially due to the ratio of high quality paired with relatively low prices and with all of the new business opportunities more and more new businesses are popping up each year. She stated “quality, and new designs” as major selling points. In the past they were able to sell the same patters year after year, but now they are finding it necessary to constantly be creating new products and patterns.