Founder, Himachal Pradesh
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.
In 2017, Catherine became a listmaker of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe. She works between India and Germany.
Partner & Manager, Ladakh
Angtak takes care of production in Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh and with his patience and calm nature 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 (luckily) returned to Ladakh, where he met Catherine during the first wool harvest in 2014. From then on, their journey continued together. In 2015, with Catherine and a very strong horseman he brought the wool back to Leh. When Angtak is not crossing passes in Ladakh he contemplates on harmonious living within a community and is learning about a material he is so familiar with - yak wool.
Manager & Weaver in Himachal Pradesh
Vishwanath is the 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. Also, he weaves our entire collections Lam and 100% Lambswool. With his work, Vishwanath is making it possible for his daughter to attend university, which is a very rare phenomena in rural Himachal. Currently, his son is studying at a renowned textile school in Varanasi - one of the best-known textile hubs of India. He will become a great textile expert in the future!
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.
Parothi 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 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 another specialist for our fabric and scarves - one says one of the best in the village! 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, a 3 pieced sari worn in the beautiful state of Assam.
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.
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. She also takes care of her garden where she harvests endless kilos of potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes. She lives with her two sons and their wives.
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 as she doesn't feel strong enough to continue the daily labour. 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 goes to work at the local construction sites.
Padma is also one of the wool weavers making the woollen fabric and carpets. 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, however with increasing age and her grandchildren this work is now very rare for her. 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 two children get to school on time. She is the youngest in our group and also continues to work in construction during the day time. She has a very abstract aesthetic on her carpets, proof is the carpet Tsug Den Mini Namgyal.
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.
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. 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.
Fulfillment Manager, Leipzig
Matias is someone who greatly contributes to our team with his in-depth knowledge of creating a business, his calm nature and order-wrapping talents. Matias and Catherine met in Leipzig during an event for Fair Fashion. In 2011, Matias founded the company Seidentraum, which is focused on peace silk fabrics. He is the one caringly wrapping our orders in Leipzig and sends them out to the world. When he is not at his desk he is planning of setting up a space for craftspeople in the idyllic South of Germany.
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 and worked with local tailors. He could not find ready made shirts he liked and therefore simply created them himself with the help of local tailors. Currently, he is finishing his studies at the renowned agriculture school SupAgro in Montpellier. Find out more about Jimmy here.