In my business I try to make choices that can make a difference a little larger than myself. Using local production when I can, choosing to work with silver and gold which can be melted down and recycled, and since many years now; packaging which not only can decompose in your flowerbed if you wish so, but gives schooling and work in one of the worlds poorest countries, Nepal. This is the story on how I found a tiny Danish company, which makes a big difference for those they employ.
A few years ago I was at a fair in Copenhagen which was totally miserable. The great thing about a tradeshow is that you get to know a lot of your neighbours, and they can be making and designing things you would not have come across othervise. On bad tradeshows you also get to know your neighbours real well:)
This time it was two lovely Danish women. They had a little boot with lots of wonderful little handmade boxes from Nepal and their story really impressed me. It had all started on a hiking-trip in Nepal where they had passed the local production of Lokta-paper. Lokta-paper production is an ancient tradition in the Himalaya region, and the plant can only grow in its natural environment at 1500-3000 metres altitude. The Lokta paper is very special, durable and with a nice texture to it, but the products they made from it were not that attractive for a European market
So they decided they wanted to give something back to this wonderful, but poor country, and that they could do it through good design and by working as the link to the markets in Europe.
Since then Danry Import has designed boxes, bags, notebooks and gift wrapping and travelled trade show of Europe. The people involved in the production of the paper for the goods are ensured permanent work and the children attend school. This prevents moving to the big city, which all too often leads to a life of poverty. Some of our producers primarily employ women who, because of the economy, rarely get the opportunity to go to school.
The Nepali-paper production
The secret of paper production is the `Lokta` plant, which grows in the mountain regions of Nepal. The most suitable species are found between 1500 and 3000 meters above sea level. Nepalese harvests approx. 4-5 years after the first shot has arrived. When you cut the plant back, it is done in a way to ensure that new shoots appear again, thus ensuring the sustainability. It is the bark of the plant that is used for papermaking. The process from the branches is harvested and until the finished paper is ready is long and involves many people. There are no roads or motorized vehicles in the Nepalese Himalayas, so all transport is therefore on foot. When the pulp (paper crop) is ready, they are placed on frames that are on the ground. If the paper is subsequently to be dyed, it is placed on large steel sheets that also dry in the sun. Therefore, you also depend on the weather when an order is to be produced. Throughout the process, a minimum of power is used, as this can sometimes be unstable or completely absent.
One does no know when they began to produce coated paper in Nepal. But in the national archives in Kathmandu, one can experience the sacred Buddhist writings `Karanya Budha Sutra`, which has just been written on this paper, and dates back to about 1.-9. Century after Christ. This, for example, says something about the paper's durability, but it's only one of the many qualities the paper has. The locals in Nepal have used the paper for medical purposes for many years. It is believed that when you put the paper in soft and drink the water from it, you can relieve muscle pain, polyps, etc. In addition, the paper is used to stop bleeding wounds and insect bites. You also pack medicine and other goods into it, as it is not destroyed by insects. In addition, it is also very popular to make dragons - due to the durability.
My customers love the packaging, and it makes me so happy every time I get feedback about how they have continued to use the bags, or made jewelry from the pompons.
If you are a business Danry Import can tailor make packaging to your specification, colours, sizes, everything. The production can take its time, but it is always worth the wait. The websites are in danish, but I am sure you can send them an order in English if you´re from outside Scandinavia.
KGD - kaja gjedebo design
I have been working as an artist and jewellery designer since 2002, after graduating as a furniture designer from Edinburgh College of Art in 1999.