We found Himalayan Weavers through Craftmark and instantly feel in love wth them! They make naturally dyed, hand spun and hand woven wool stoles in the Himalayan Mountains in Uttarakhand, India.
Himalayan Weavers was founded by Ghayur and Patricia Alam. The two London natives have lived in India for years - Patricia since 1983. In 2005, they teamed up with local artisans near Dehradun, Uttarakhand to create these amazing stoles!
The natural dyeing process is run by one man located in the Himalayan Mountains outside Dehradun. His process is consistent with all natural dyes used at Soluna Collective. The ingredients include: madder, indigo, tea, harda, soap nut, alum and boiled in an iron pot. All wastewater is used as irrigation on his field and the entire process is created in a closed loop system, where everything is compostable!
While the natural dyeing process feels similar to our current line, Himalayan Weavers has taken water conversation to an entirely new level. I think Ghayur explains it best, "We are very concerned with energy efficiency, water usage and water recycling of our dyeing process. We have separate drums for each dye so the same dye bath is used repeatedly. Most dyers use one pot for all dyes, so they have to throw away old dye bath when new dye is to be used, resulting in wastage of water. We don’t throw away any dye bath or alum water. This adds to considerable saving of water. "
Seriously, they don't toss out any water! They keep the dye bath alive through heat management and replenishment techniques. For heat management, all dyeing drums are insulated and almost no electricity is needed to keep the dye bath warm/alive. The 100 degree India heat helps as well.
While they might not need heat to keep the dye bath alive, they do need it to boil water during the dye extraction phase. Many communities in the Himalayan Mountains use wood fired stoves to boil water, which can have serious impacts on the environment and human health. Seeing this as a problem, Ghayur, designed and created an energy efficient smokeless stove that produces minimal CO2 emissions! We should note, Ghayur has a Ph.D from the University of Manchester.
All wool comes from a blend of Himalayan and Merino wool. The wool yarn is certified Khadi, a hand spun and hand woven fabric! All Himalayan wool comes from free range sheep in the Himalayan Mountains and all Merino wool comes from Australia.
Himalayan Weavers is also dedicated to their artisans. Besides the one man natural dyer, they work with a number of artisan families for the weaving of their stoles. At Soluna Collective, our stoles were hand spun and hand woven by a Gulzar family, located in Dehradun.
Himalyan Weavers is Craftmark certified for ethical manufacturing. They pay their artisans a living wage, no child labor is practiced and paid medical, and school expenditures are given to all their employees! The artisans work from home and make their own schedule and hours. Our small batch of scarves took about 5 weeks to be completed.
Why we chose them
Himalayn Weavers is the first company we worked with in India that does not have a GOTS certification. As our business has grown, so has our outlook on our supply chain. Specifically, we have fallen in love with artisan made goods and small businesses. As a small business ourselves, we understand the limitation to resources and capital that it takes to be GOTS certified. While certifications are amazing, they can sometimes neglect to bring in everyone doing it right. Which means, we have to think different and do our homework.
We vetted Himalayan Weavers ourselves, spoke with other companies that sourced from them and in the end, found that they meet many of the standards outlined by GOTS. Also, they are Craftmark certified, which helped a ton!
The goal is not to be perfect from the beginning but to grow as your company grows. We understand Himalayan Weavers, is not perfect and does not perfectly follow the standards set out by GOTS. However, they are doing a ton of things right and believe in a better tomorrow. As we grow with Himalayan Weavers, we hope to learn and challenge each other to become better! We are invested in our artisans and dedicated to their success along with the communities that support them!