Our supply chain includes pack mules!
“Yes, they use pack mules to bring the jewelry down the mountain.”
When I first spoke to Elsa Haberle, manager of Langtang Designs, she told me about the resilient and dedicated women who make the beautiful jewelry of Langtang.
Their story begins in 2015, when an earthquake devastated much of Nepal, and severely impacted their villages in the Langtang mountain range. After the earthquake, the villagers gathered in despair to mourn the destruction of their homes. Elsa, who was a relief worker in the area, realized that the women needed something to do to keep their minds occupied, so she organized a jewelry-making workshop. “It was kind of a therapy for them. They were so happy to be able to create something. Forty women showed up for the first training!” said Elsa.
With the goal of raising money to rebuild their homes, the women sold their jewelry to trekkers who passed through their area. After initial success, the enterprise became more formalized, with a website and a local production manager.
The logistics of this business are staggering. The beads and supplies purchased in Kathmandu make their way to the village first by car, and then a three-day trek into the mountains. The materials are carried by pack mules or men who carry loads on their backs. The finished jewelry makes the reverse trip down the mountain to Elsa, who keeps an inventory in Kathmandu to fill orders.
Yup, the supply chain includes pack mules.
Langtang Designs is still a very small and informal business. Just a few women make the jewelry, gathering in a home and earning a living wage for the work they do. In general, the business just breaks even, but when they do make a profit, the women decide together how they will use the money. Most recently, they bought winter coats for members of the community who needed them.
The lovely beaded jewelry is made of brass, white metal and stones like composite turquoise and coral. Each piece is lovingly named for a woman in the village.
When you buy a piece of Langtang Designs jewelry, you’re supporting this small, emerging business of motivated women living a three-day trek into the Langtang Mountains of Nepal.