What is an Himalayan vacation for most of us? A wonderful whiff of fresh mountain air, a cup of tea while you are swaddled in cozy woolens.For some it is an opportunity to provide a means of livelihood and change the lives of the locals. Nisha Subramaniam travels to Naggar in Himachal Pradesh atleast twice every year. Each time, she stays for more than a month organising local women into knitting units. Her co-operative WHIMS (Women of Himachal Self Help Group) designs, produces and markets woolen accessories. She works on their designs, improvises on their skills and helps them create products that appeal to an urban audience.
Nisha provides the basic raw material (wool) and helps with patterns/designs that appeal to an urban audience.The women who are experts in knitting and crochet create these charming, old-world with a modern twist, cozy accessories. She has also identified a family of weavers who create traditional Kinnauri and Kullu patterned stoles and shawls, and Pashmina stoles. Nisha and her mother in law Mrs.Padma Krishnamoorthy work together on this project.
The whole project started as an effort from Nisha to give back to Naggar. She has been a regular traveler to Naggar during the summer months. The locals have welcomed their long stays and Nisha feels it was time for her to give back. WHIMS is committed to providing sustainable employment for the women so they can take control of their lives and futures. The marketing and design is based in Bangalore while the production takes place in Naggar.
Do check out their head bands and hand knit slippers. You can check out their website here.