BY REBECA SCHILLER
Snow Leopard Trust’s felt booties
Landlocked between two intimidating neighbors—Russia and China—Mongolia is a remote country where many of its people continue to follow an ancient nomadic lifestyle that primarily involves herding sheep and livestock. Life is very meager and many herders turn to other means to supplement their income: poaching snow leopards.
Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. In the 1990s, the not-for-profit developed a community-based conservation program, Snow Leopard Enterprises, which encourages leopard conservation while helping rural Mongolians increase their incomes via handcraft production.
Almost 300 Mongolians and their families, in the six provinces, are participating in the program and have increased their household incomes by nearly twenty-five percent. As part of the program, women across Central Asia are trained and given equipment to produce beautiful hand-felted wool products, which are sold internationally through the Snow Leopard Trust online store and other venues, like 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE. These women can now afford food, medicine, and provide an education for their children.
Snow Leopard Trust staff members gather once or twice a year to teach new design methods and techniques as well as product improvement. Goals for designers include how to combine traditional materials, techniques, and symbols with designs and colors that will appeal to a broad international market. A second goal is for the products to illustrate the conservation aspect of the program where the design of the snow leopard’s distinct paw print appears on many of the items.
At 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE, parents and family members can find the perfect felt booties thanks to talents and workmanship of the women who participate in Snow Leopard Enterprises. Made of all natural sheep wool, and lined with fine cotton, these felted booties will keep tiny toes warm in any weather. It’s not too early for baby to make a conservation statement as well, and sport the embroidered paw print of the regal snow leopard for all to see. One size fit most children 24 months or younger. Booties measure about three inches wide and five inches long.
For more information about the Snow Leopard Trust, please visit www.snowleopard.org. For booties and other items, please visit http://www.12smallthings.com/artisan-collection/felt-baby-booties-1.html.