Women and wood

This is June and some of you may know that it is my birthday’s month! 2017 means that I will be turning 30 years old…I have been thinking about this number but still, for me (and people), I look like a 25 years old person! My name sometimes sounds a bit outdated for French people, usually given to the 50-60 years old. Sylvaine means « of the forest » in Latin. My dad being a forest engineer could not resist finding a name that would fit his passion and find a girl name too (I am the last in the family with two elder brothers).  I like my name because I knew that nobody else in my class, school and even now in my company has the same name of mine…In Nepal, it is very interesting on how people will be able to pronounce it, so it usually comes like Sylvani, Sylvia, Sylvan.

So from the forest to the wood, this is how I wanted to relate to this great story of Birgit and her women’s team making great contemporary and useful wooden designs for your home. You will find those crafts under the brand of kar.maLIVING which I came to know by meeting Birgit developing samples at SABAH Nepal.

I was really keen on presenting you her story and how this brand started so here is it. I found time to meet her and have a great fresh coffee at kar.maCOFFEE last week. As usual, I like to start the interview with…

How did kar.maLIVING start?

I have always liked first of all working on interior designing. This is what I have been doing for the kar.maCOFFEE and for others resorts and guest houses in Nepal. At one point, I wanted to work on different projects and creating useful, designed and sustainable products. I had also in mind to work with wooden crafts and to change its stigma that we have about wood like being dusty, messy and only for men. So, I have discussed further this project with Carola Gosch, my friend based in Austria, who herself is being involved in women’s empowerment development projects at Roots for life. Quickly we received the green signal to start the project!

Who are these super carpentry ladies’ heroes?

I feel very lucky that i had received the help from SABAH Nepal who recommended meeting four women : Mana Shoba Maharjan, Chandrika Shahi, Asta Maya Maharjan, Chandra Shoba Maharjan, all from the same village of Kokhana being quite well-known for the wood carving work. I could see their strong interest working with wooden crafts.

Their fathers have been working in wood carving crafts. These ladies have been « in the wood » for their very young age thought they were not very familiar with wood work.  At first, they were quite impressed by  the machines, was a little afraid of those weird sounds, but I would say that those fears are totally gone by now! No later than last week, they have been able to switch on a machine and trying it without had receiving the training yet…

As many in their village, these women have lost their houses during the earthquake and I feel motivated to support them.

Developing now the kar.maLIVING brand, what is your vision?

So far, starting in February 2017, we have been able to welcome one product designer and helped us to set up the workshop and give basic training. Since then, the women are still being trained on the different techniques and machines. We have so far released a few wooden crafts such as the blackboard and the menu holder. In the coming months, new items will be showcased in Nepal and retailers shops in Europe. I wish one day to develop a new concept shop for a live workshop within a coffee shop and a boutique…

Finishing the sentences…

I started kar.maLIVING because I love designs, aesthetic, both and working with women.

My typical day looks like taking a nice breakfast with my family, doing my yoga, having some meetings at kar.maCOFFEE first. During the day, working on new partnerships, on the strategy and product development along with marketing activities.

Right now, I am loving the freedom, to do what I want to do!

I am happiest when I manage in an open-mind to work on the objectives that I aim to; while also take today as it is comes, including some surprises sometimes!

I am inspired by the people of Nepal, Nepal, its nature and the country itself.

I would advise my younger self to follow your passion and believe in what you are doing.

I would like to thank Birgit for sharing the exciting story of kar.maLIVING. I was keen on sharing with you this project and new brand which breaks out from this stigma that carpentry work is only for men. Women and Wood are actually a perfect match!

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