Catherine Allié & Tsering Angtak
Catherine and Angtak are running KAL together from their home in Choglamsar, Ladakh. They met in 2014 when Catherine was sourcing wool from Angtak's brothers for the very first time. Catherine has been living in India since 2012 and found the teams of KAL during her 9-month research in early 2014. She is responsible for the processes and communication in India. She learnt Ladakhi and Hindi and can connect well with the teams. She also works on product development and administrative work. Her creative input in KAL is her analogue photography and natural dyeing. While studying business in Paris, she had the continuous thought in mind to do something where the social and economic elements can co-exist.
Angtak takes care of production in Ladakh. With his patience and calm nature he adds a very pleasant element to KAL. He grew up in the nomadic region of Kharnak and at the age of 9 he moved to Leh to study and since then he has lived all over India and returned to Ladakh in 2014 and met Catherine. From then on, their journey continued together. Angtak is also running the carding machines for the wool. When there is time left at the end of the day, he enjoys working in the garden. Anytime throughout the day you will find him playing with their three dogs. In 2022, after three years of construction they finally moved into their dream home which is also the home base of KAL.
Manager & Dyeing Expert, Assam
Latika is our manager in Assam: she makes sure the right amount of yarn gets distributed, she has it all on the radar and does the last quality check. Also, her and her husband Chandan are the dyeing experts and always come up with new plants to extract dye. Latika is the one communicating with Catherine by phone on the orders. She is also weaving and spinning herself. If she's not behind the loom or the scale or the dye pots she lovingly cares for her two children, Monu and Babu. Latika makes the best eggplant pickle and Coconut Ladoo - a sweet speciality from fresh coconuts.
Bharati weaves especially our scarves and fabric. Her loom is right next to Subarna's and in the big courtyard the two families are always active. When Bharati is not making mufflers and it's a Thursday you can hear her singing and clapping in the temple along with her fellow ladies.
Khiroda is one of our oldest weavers in Assam and she loves working together with her daughter in law Nitu. Her son has a local pig farm and also keeps many cows. She likes watching how piglets are growing and playing. She keeps her loom tools so nicely and always mantains them in good shape. Weaving is her passion.
Assistant Dyer, Assam
Chandan is the husband of Latika and a great support to her and the group. He goes to the market and collects onion skins for dyeing and he is the master of the fire or the gas during our dyeing sessions. Also, he gathers kilos of teak leaves with a machete and sometimes turns into a walking teak tree himself.
When he has some time off, he enjoys sitting by the temple with his mates. He also loves to cook with meat, proof is his cumin chicken.
Tutu is one of our youngest weavers in Assam. She is interested in learning new hand loom techniques from her aunties Subarna and Bharati who are also working with us. In her free time she helps her brother with his chicken farm in feeding and watering the new born chicks.
Bina is an expert weaver. She set up her loom in between her lush vegetable garden and an old Lichi tree. She lives alongside with her family in law in a beautiful courtyard. Bina is very creative and has a good feeling for new colour combinations in her handwoven textiles.
Weaver & Knitter, Ladakh
Chonzom is one of our youngest team members in Ladakh. She has all-round skills such as weaving, knitting and managing the team. She enjoys weaving the traditional Kharnak textiles - techniques which her mother passed on to her. She is eager to learn other types of weaving as well. In her free time she is learning new recipes through youtube tutorials and cares for her two adorable daughters.
Tsering Angmo is our oldest team member in Ladakh. She loves to continue the weaving with us because she feels that this work is connected to her heart and mind. As she has been practicing weaving for decades her advice on loom troubleshooting are very appreciated. She enjoys telling stories to the other weavers while sorting wool. She wakes up early in the morning to circumambulate all surrounding monasteries and stupas.
Angmo is very skilled in felting our wollen fabrics with warm water. The big flat weave carpets have to be felted after weaving so she is the expert for this. At the time of felting, she sings traditional songs so that this exhausting work finishes quickly. She loves joking and has a great laugh!
Tsering is one of our weavers and spinners in Ladakh. These days she spends most of the time in her home or weaving with the other ladies. She is also busy with the two grandchildren who live in her house and therefore is also happy just to take care of them. Her family came to settle because of the very cold temperatures up to -40°C in winters and the health problems some of her relatives faced. But just with all the others, the heart is still nomadic.
Tashi is also a spinner, weaver and settled nomad. Originally, she is from the region of Zanskar, in Western Ladakh. She explained us the amount of time put into spinning and weaving a snambu and the importance it holds in the nomadic community. To her, the weaving means tradition, a tradition which cannot be lost. When she is not weaving, spinning or helping us process our wool, she enjoys the time with her first grandchild.
Padma is also one of the weavers making the woollen fabric and carpets. She settled about 20 years ago. Originally from the nomadic region of Rupshu she settled in Kharnak after her marriage. Padma is a superb weaver as she has been doing it for so long. So whenever there is a problem with the loom, she is one of the "doctors" as the others like to say.
Namgyal has an excellent knowledge of fine spinning and weaving. She has a very abstract aesthetic on her carpets, proof is the carpet Tsug Den Mini Namgyal. This carpet is based on her style of the traditional center designs, made in natural dyes. Also, she enjoys knitting thick woollen socks and sweaters for the cold Ladakhi winters.
Yangdol is somebody who loves to take initiative in the weaving work and is an ambitious woman who is motivated to finish work before the due time. At the time of setting up the warp, she prays and chants mantra for a successfully set up loom. She is eager to learn more about her smart phone and its endless features. Tsering Yangdol is the mother of our weaver Jigmet Chonzom.
Padma is very active in sorting, washing and drying our wool in the summer days when the others are taking a rest. She has fresh memories with nomadic life as she has abandoned nomadic life only a few years back because of uncertain circumstances. With our work she can remember her nomadic chores. In our team she is the one who is skilled at finances. She also helps the other weavers in distributing and exchanging money.
Stanzin is the best herder out there. Fullstop. He lives in Changthang with his brother Angchok, their wife Dolma and the daughter Sonam Lamo. His calling is doing what he does: walking kilometers with his animals every day, if sun or snow, to take them grazing. He also takes care of shearing the sheep, plucking the yak wool and combing the pashmina. His day starts at 4am in the morning every day and ends around 10:30pm at night. He is one of those rare people with a philosophy shaped by his life, his imagination and the days of taking the animals to the mountains. When all this work is done, he has a hot rum and chants mantras to reach enlightenment.
Angchok is quite the multitasker. He is head of the nomad community, shuffles from Changthang to Leh for administrative work and also shears the sheep and plucks the yak wool. He makes great goat momos, and is a weaver himself. He took over his father's tent and in the course of decades, improved it and fixed worn-out parts of the tent. However, these days weaving the yak hair tent reibo has become a less practiced activity. For him, the life as a nomad is where he feels best – he says the city is simply so hectic.
The people without who KAL would not be what it is...
Lisanne de Bakker
Human-centered Designer, Rotterdam
Lisanne met Catherine while living in New Delhi in 2012. Through her passion for traditional craft and ethical production she has been a part of KAL since the very first moment. Lisanne contributes with her critical and creative mind to overall development of KAL and became a pro in Skype feedback sessions. She is responsible for our visual identity and takes care of graphic projects. Based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, she is currently working at ProPortion, a social enterprise + foundation creating opportunities for the youth in Africa to set up their own social business. These days, she spends a lot of time in Kenya and Ethiopia - whether in the huge cities or in deserted areas and researches on potential business ideas for the local youth.
Fashion Designer, Leipzig
Irena Zrno has contributed to KAL with her skills of patternmaking and designing since October 2015. In our early days, she made our garments to order. Our styles Pohar, Uday and Botah are her creations. She continues to work on samples for us. Her origins are in Varazdin, Croatia and at the age of 9 she came to Berlin. She has been questioning the use and reuse of textiles and the modernisation of ancient weaving art. Recently she established her own business and creative space called AtelierH4O in Leipzig, where she works on cosmetic and home textiles made from hemp fiber and includes refugees in the sewing work, with the goal to provide jobs and ease integration.
Ladakh Intern of 2018, Montpellier
One day in February 2018 Jimmy sent us an email, expressing his interest in the nomadic livestock and our work in Ladakh and wishing to contribute as an intern in the summer. We were extremely lucky to have worked with him, to have him as part of our team. He was able to smoothly adapt to our work life in Ladakh, made the wool harvest and processing of 2018 a success and went with hundreds kilos of wool across the Himalayas. On the days off he designed many styles of garments for himself by working with local tailors and always came home with new outfits! Currently, he is finishing his studies at the renowned agriculture school SupAgro in Montpellier. Find out more about Jimmy here.
Intern of 2019 in Ladakh
In the summer of 2019 Juliette was part of our wool harvest for 2 months learning more about wool and its making – something she has been passionate about for years as a dedicated knitter. Juliette got into the wool world very quickly – from picking dusty fleece in the high region of Kharnak, to sorting the dirty wool and washing and dyeing. Since then, she has created so many beautiful knits with our yarns. You can see all her knitting skills on her instagram @roulitricot
Intern of 2019 in Ladakh & Assam
Ana joined us in September 2019 as our intern for the second part of summer. As a textile artist, her approach to our raw materials and weaving styles has been very profound and hands-on. Ana experienced all the steps of making in Ladakh and accompanied us on the long journey by bus and train from Ladakh to Assam via Himachal Pradesh. Ana is an avid weaver, natural dyer and has created textile art bonded with nature. You can discover them on her instagram account @auf_der_walz