"Two years ago we received an email in our junk mail box which we shouldn't have really opened, but we did anyway," recall designers Lesley Hansard and Rebecca Welsh of the introduction to their artisans. "A young man found our website and said he loved our designs and would love to work with us."
It was perfect timing for the duo: After 14 years of hand-felting their own designs, they were considering new manufacturing options. "We jumped on the next plane and trained the Nepali felt-makers to make our designs. We met the whole family and became good friends."
Hansard and Welsh go to great lengths to ensure their artisans have access to health insurance. Working conditions are a top priority. Their Nepali partners maintain fair treatment, allowing artisans to bring small children to work.
"It's great to learn new skills," they beam. "We're becoming business women as well as felt-makers."