Catherine has lived in India for three years and found the teams of KAL, she is responsible for the processes and communication in India. She learnt Ladakhi and Hindi and thus, 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. When Catherine is not whistling after the sheep in Changthang, you can find her in her garden in Leipzig.
In 2017, Catherine became a listmaker of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe.
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 also loves to experiment with graphic design and watercolor illustrations to give shape to KAL’s visual identity. Based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, she is currently aiming to grow her experience as a researcher and human-centered designer in the field of social innovation and international development.
Fashion Designer, Leipzig
Irena Zrno has contributed to KAL with her skills of patternmaking and designing. 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. She appreciates about her work at KAL the opportunity to create timeless classics with textiles of natural fiber and made by hand as it gives her a different point of view during the design process. When she is not in Leipzig creating new designs and cuddling her cats you will certainly find her in her vineyard in Croatia planting Aronia trees.
Manager & Weaver, Assam
Lotika 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. Lotika 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 on the phone), she lovingly cares for her two children, Monu and Babu. Lotika makes the best eggplant pickle.
Parothi is our scarf specialist and weaves especially the mufflers. Her loom is right next to Subarna's and in the big courtyard the two families are always active. When Parothi is not making mufflers and it's a Thursday you can hear her singing and clapping in the temple along with her fellow ladies.
Subarna is the specialist for our fabric. She is such a dedicated weaver and even when it's pouring down, you will find her behind the loom. When it's too dark to weave, Subarna gets together with Parothi and the children and you can find her by following the loud laughter. She is also passionately weaving the traditional Assamese mekhla chaddar.
Ranju Das Kolita
Dyer & weaver, Assam
Ranju is the one with the grand book of dyeing. She is the woman to ask when it comes to natural dyes from the village. She took us to big teak trees and mehndi bushes to understand what it's all about. She used to work for a government weaving center, now in KAL takes care of the dyeing and also loves cosmetics, especially sunblock.
Subarna number 2 is the stole specialist. Along with her mother Pit Mala Kolita, she is weaving in her backyard which is right next to where the jungle starts. Besides weaving for KAL, she loves to prepare the mekhla chaddar (traditional dress) for her daughter's wedding.
Jasna is a very dedicated weaver and loving person to be around. She helps out when there are more orders coming in and supports Lotika whenever possible.
Jasna likes to pluck mehndi leaves and make paste to dye hair and nails but also makes delicious coconut sweets, called ladoo.
Assistant Dyer, Assam
Chandan is the husband of Lotika 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 during our dyeing sessions.
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.
Manager & Weaver, Himachal Pradesh
Vishwanath is our „manager“ in Himachal Pradesh. He is taking care of every step the lambswool goes through: washing, carding, spinning and knitting. For KAL, he is weaving pashmina scarves with the wool from the same pashmina goats our team in Changthang keeps. With his work, Vishwanath is making it possible for his daughter to attend university, which is a very rare phenomena in rural Himachal.
Spinner & Knitter, Himachal Pradesh
Shakuntala is Vishwanath's wife and contributing to KAL with her knitting and weaving skills. She is helping Vishwanath to prepare the loom, spinning wool and keeping up with the household. She has mastered many delicious tea recipes, ranging from the typical Indian milk tea with cardamom to a chamomile ginger twist, depending on mood and ingredients. When Shakuntala is not busy, she is sitting in the sun and enjoying the beautiful terrace of their home.
Knitter, Himachal Pradesh
Durga is Vishwanath's sister and our beanie expert. She has been knitting beanies for more than 20 years, for big orders, with synthetic yarn without sincere appreciation by anyone. Now she is content to be getting feedback, working on new designs and products and most importantly, proud to be working for herself. Most likely, you will find her sitting on the bed, sipping chai and knitting.
Spinner, Himachal Pradesh
Mira is our lambswool spinning expert. Even if there are kilos and kilos of wool to be spun, she progressively finishes one after the other, as fine as she can. When she is not sitting legs crossed in her home and spinning meditatively you will see her working on ideas of how to upgrade her house along with her husband and children. She loves to build and is very proud to have constructed the house she lives in.
Manager & Weaver, Ladakh
Rigzin is our Ladakhi weaving manager. She is in charge of communicating with Catherine, sending the fabric her mother and friends are weaving and working on new ideas. Rigzin is very dedicated to weaving as well, something which is also not so common with younger women anymore. In her time off, she takes care of her niece Rinchen or learns about Buddhist philosophy, her field of study.
Sonam is Rigzin's mother and has been a weaver for as long as she can think. She weaves both rugs and snambus and spins the yak and sheep wool. She came from Changthang to settle close to the city 15 years ago. Her house is the meeting point on Sundays, when the entire team gathers for spinning, weaving, chatting and drinking butter tea.
Tashi is also a spinner, weaver and settled nomad. She keeps on returning to Changthang several times a year. 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.
Padma is also one of the wool weavers making the snambu. She settled about 10 years ago. Her lifestyle has changed since then and in order to keep up with the family's expenses, she is working on construction sites in Ladakh. Despite the hard work, she always joins on Sundays meetings with a smile and is a superb weaver.
Namgyal joins the Sunday sessions as well and contributes with her fine spinning and weaving knowledge. She also weaves at her home, during the weektime early in the morning or after construction work. When she is not gossiping and spinning with the ladies, she is taking care that her children get to school on time.
Tsering is the last in the pack of our team of weavers in Ladakh. Her routine is similar to the others: weaving in the early morning and evening and during the day, working on the construction site. 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.
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. During a good year, he wove his tent from yak hair in which his family stays in during the summer months. For him, the life as a nomad is where he feels best – he says the city is simply so hectic.
Tenzin is the best herder out there. Fullstop. He lives in Changthang with his brother Angchok, their wife Dolma and the daughter Sonam. 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. When all this work is done, he has a hot rum and chants mantras to reach enlightenment.
Settled Nomad, Ladakh
Angtak is the youngest of the three brothers and makes our team complete by being a cultural bridge and his involvement in transporting the wool from Changthang to Leh. Together with Catherine and a very strong horseman he brought the wool from 2015 back to Leh. He spent his life until he was 9 in Changthang. School and university followed and he became a teacher this year. More than anything he wants to teach the children the middle path of Buddhist philosophy.