with designer and founder of JALU baby, Cady Allione.
What does it mean to be 'Made in Nepal'?
Nepal is a magical country. Amidst the chaos of the capital on the outskirts of the Kathmandu valley, small artisan family workshops are still making beautiful things. In Nepal there is a strong sense of culture and tradition. Many of the craftsmen and women are doing what their families have done for generations. From paper making, to metal work, to weaving and knitting, these artisans are invested in the legacy of their work.
The people of Nepal are simply beautiful. Their big smiles and big hearts make all the challenges of production and manufacturing manageable. There is a saying in Nepali, "Keh garne" (kay gar ney), which basically means, "What to do?" This national ethos permeates life here. What to do? - relax and let go or find a way. There is an ease to either choice.
As our world continues to develop and traditions of the past make way for new ones, many of the old world techniques are becoming lost and fewer and fewer places exist where these types of work are still being done. Nepal is one such rare place.
I was in Nepal during the earthquakes of 2015. When people began to look to rebuild their lives again, the importance of giving support through their work became clear. I had previously looked at production in China and packaging in New York. By becoming 100% Nepali made, we created a platform for craftsmen and women to transform these raw materials into objects of beauty and functionality. And in doing so we are able to honor the environment, traditions, and generations before us and beyond us.
Can you give us a glimpse at the process?
The natural fibers for the blankets, hats, and baselayers are sourced from other countries in Asia and then brought to the workshops in Nepal. (Nepal is not a manufacturer of cashmere and organic cotton fibers.) From there the knitting, embroidery, and labeling take place. Even our labels are all handmade. A template is created and a long ribbon of Nepali made cotton ticking is stamped by hand with the label design. The hangtags, gift boxes, packaging and wrapping are made from a traditional multi-layered process. The raw fiber for the paper comes from the indigenous Lokta plant that grows abundantly on the hillsides above 6,500 feet. The collecting of these plants for processing is an old Nepali tradition. Lokta paper is special, not only is it a renewable resource but it is also naturally water and insect resistant. Often times the paper is dyed but we chose to use the paper in its natural form, free from dyes and additional colorants. Each box is assembled by hand and even the brass buttons and twisted tassels are hand crafted. We invest in people, not industrial machines. At each step of the process we have been able to ensure the quality of our products and uphold a quality of life for the artisans.
What does full fiber mean?
I love working with cashmere. It is just so soft. Although blended yarns are great and have their place, I choose to keep the different fibers separate to ensure the natural qualities inherent in the fibers are maintained - the lushness of cashmere, the breathability of organic cotton. Taking classic designs and applying them to the technique of alternating 100% cashmere and 100% organic cotton we were able to create blankets that have the perfect balance of lightness and warmth. I wanted to make something that would last. These designs aren't outgrown, they are timeless. They are also durable. Being a mother, I know how quickly things can get dirty, which is why the blankets were made to be machine washable. To ensure the products that we make will endure the test of time I personally product test them. They were designed to be a favorite and go everywhere.
Anything else to add?
It is my hope that all the JALU baby products are treasured. They are a beautiful gift to give and receive. They are the 'wow', 'gasp' gifts that will be used and cherished for many years.