Our felt slippers are so beautifully handmade! We work with a relatively new production unit in Kirtipur just outside Kathmandu, who have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years since we first met them! Anup and his team are incredibly forward thinking and ethically conscious when developing their processes, equipment and terms of employment, especially when presented with cultural and financial challenges in a developing country as Nepal is. I was their first international visitor to their production unit a few years ago and it is exciting to see their business flourish and expand each year!
The felt slippers are firstly felted as flat socks with a reusable recycled plastic ‘resist’ inside to create the opening, made from raw 100% wool in layers and soaked with soapy water. The raw wool has been dyed to our chosen colour with azo-free dyes before being used for the felting process. These are then felted again around a resin or wood last (foot shape mould for each EU size to get size consistency). Depending on their skill level, the workers can complete 2 or 3 pairs of felt uppers per day by hand-felting. The water used in the felting process is recycled as much as possible through a series of drainage systems on the table and water filtering system and the felt slippers are dried in the sun or in a solar-powered heating shed (depending on the season and the demand!).
The suede soles are hand cut and screen printed with size/logo and stitched beautifully and securely to the wool upper to complete the pair of slippers ready for sale!
Our felt producer employs 88 individuals at their workshop, mainly women, through word of mouth, from the local Kirtipur area, providing free training and work, with opportunities to progress to management or to train others, where possible. They also receive a monthly education allowance for each of their children as part of their employment benefits. Overtime, increased pay, and flexible working hours are available for all employees, empowering women to commit to work around their family commitments. With their energy and capability, they are able to complete larger orders and bespoke work for us and have been a pleasure to work with.