In Spring of 2016, we were able to get back to Nepal for our third visit. It was our second time reconnecting with Rajan, our manufacturer. In part because of all the financial donations we were able to provide to Rajan's staff in the wake of the earthquakes, and in part because we were staying at the factory which is also Rajan's family home, we had the opportunity to get to know the tailors and some of their families much better.
In March of 2015, we showed you Where in the World was Your Jacket Made. Now, we'd like to introduce you to the people who make your jackets from start to finish. (Round images link to other stories and photos).
The J4J Team! Well, most of the team. Missing are Mohammat (who broke his elbow in a motorbike accident), Vishnu-Maya (who works at the shop most days, not the factory) and Sunita, Rajan's wife (who who was taking the photo).
Rajan Dulal, our manufacturer
This is Rajan, our manufacturer, in his shop in Thamel. He is a self-made man who now runs his factory from the ground floor of his house, employing up to 10 people at a time, while supporting his wife, mother and two teenage sons. He also finds time and resources to support his home village's reconstruction since the earthquakes and he also makes school bags for donation to children in remote villages. We know... amazing, eh?! For a little more about Rajan, click here to "Meet Your Maker".
Ganesh Nepali (aka Big Ganesh)
"Thulo" (Big) Ganesh, wielding the sacred tool of the tailor: the gigantic scissors. Ganesh is Rajan's most senior staff and right-hand-man: he assumes the role of everything-overseer if Rajan is away. He is also the only person that Rajan entrusts with the giant scissors and the dangerous "mega pizza cutter" for slicing out the pattern pieces
At 20 years old, Santosh is Rajan's youngest employee, yet he has already worked at Rajan's factory for many years and is one of the sewing mainstays. He is his family's only income earner, supporting his mother and three younger siblings. As an expert tailor - fast and accurate - with a real knack for the craft, he is often the first person to assemble a new pattern that Rajan has designed (like this sample long women's coat he's assembling).
Nurayan is one of Rajan's mainstay tailors. He is from the hot southern plains of Nepal (the Terai), so he stays at the factory for weeks at a time, sharing cooking and meals and accommodation with Hajrat. Nurayan has his own sewing station in the corner of the jacket sewing room and he assembles and stuffs our jackets, 2 per day like clockwork.
Sunil is one of Rajan's mainstay tailors, working almost exclusively on our jackets. His sewing machine is the first one on the right upon entering the jacket-sewing room and his 1000W smile is the first thing you'll see! Sunil commutes by bus from his home every day and supports his wife, two children and his father with his work here.
Hajrat is one of Rajan's main tailors, and he comes from the Terai with vast expertise in his trade. Seated in the back left corner of the jacket-sewing room, he works next to his ancient radio which blares Nepali music all the work-long day. He is quiet and shy, very competent and diligent. He is supporting his wife and 4 children with his work in Kathmandu, and while in the city, he stays at the factory rooming and cooking with Nurayan.
Ganesh Nepali (aka Small Ganesh)
Sano ("Small") Ganesh is a part-time tailor for Rajan; he also has foot-pedal-powered sewing machine at his home where he and his wife produce beautiful baby's dresses. Although Ganesh-the-younger is not always at the factory, when he comes in he can make 3 jackets in a single day - faster than all the other tailors. He is a sewing speed demon!
Sunita is Rajan's wife and factory helper. Although most of the time she is running the household, she is Rajan's go-to finisher: with her eye for detail, she makes sure that all the jackets are finished to perfection, with no loose threads and all the right toggles. She is also a master-shopper and bargainer, so whenever new thread, fabric or other bits are required at the factory, she arranges the best deals!
Nilam has worked at the factory for a couple of years now and started out learning on the job. Until last year, she specialized in the "bag" side of Rajan's business, making backpacks and duffle bags. Now, she is learning the trickier craft of sewing with slippery taffeta and is helping the team to sew our jackets and stuff sacks.
Pabitra joined Rajan's team last year and has been working mainly making bags. However, she is also part of the J4J team as she is making the stuff sacks for our jackets and does the finishing and quality control. Here she is using a candle to melt the ends of the cords for our stuff sacks.
Vishnu Maya is Rajan's shop-keeper. She holds down the fort as the shop is in Thamel, about a 20-minute walk from the factory. When the work load demands it, Vishnu Maya assists with the finishing and quality-checking of our jackets at the factory. She lives in Kathmandu and just got married one week ago!
Missing in Action
Following a nasty motorcycle accident, Mohammat - also from the south of Nepal (Terai) - was not at the factory in the spring when we were visiting. Normally, he is another of Rajan's main tailors. Get well soon, Mohammat!