Kaligarh means artisan – someone specialized in a handmade craft or art form. In Nepal, where this jewelry and furniture company is based, the word captures a diverse range of skills, from jewelry to carpentry, and carries with it an old-fashioned sense of respect.
It’s important to Kaligarh founder Jyoti Upadhyay that the respect never be diluted – and that Himalayan craft forms stay alive for future generations to enjoy and experience. The company works with small-scale artisan businesses, often single craftspeople, to look at motifs and designs inherited from generations past, and to re-craft them into new forms right for 21st-century eyes.
“As a company,” she explains, “we pay tribute to the art and artisans of the Himalayan region, both ancient and contemporary, in ways that express our adherence to fair trade and sustainable principles. By using natural lokta fiber paper from Nepal, by working with traditional craftspeople and telling their stories, and more, we are pairing commerce and respect.”
Her care comes through in the products themselves, with beautiful textures and details that, as promised, balance traditional references with modern ideas.
Upadhyay is interested in helping people live better lives on their own terms, and in their own villages. “Most small-scale artisans work independently, in their homes or in small workshops tucked away in the alleys of the old towns of the Kathmandu Valley. For now, we don’t employ craftsmen or women full time, but we go to great effort to identify artisans with whom we can work directly, and whose work deserves premium rates. The artisan is at the center of our company, and is treated with respect and dignity.” Sometimes, when serious health or personal issues arise in an artisan’s multi-generational family structure, the company offers loans and flexible work schedules as needed.
For more information about this socially-motivated company, see www.kaligarh.com, and visit their booth at Artisan Resource @ NY Now, August 16-19, 2015, at NYC’s Javits Center.