One of my favorite parts of owning The Local Gem is being able to meet all of these fabulous makers in our community and work along side them. It’s such a beautiful thing when we can actually see and know the people who make our stuff and know it’s been ethically sourced. At The Local Gem, we want to promote local artists but we also want our customers to be able to see and know who made their bag or scarf or candle. Each month, we will be highlighting one of the makers off of our shelves to give you a taste of their products as well as to give you as the reader, a chance to “get to know” who made your stuff.
This month we are chatting with Sushma of Sunavworld. Her company empowers women in Nepal while selling beautiful bags, scarves, and gifts.
Q. What led you to start Sunavworld?
Sushma: I am originally from Nepal and have always been passionate about women’s economic empowerment. I also knew that the arts and crafts by grassroots women artisans were stunning in Nepal. So I combined these two things together and Sunavworld was born. Through Sunavworld, I sell handmade, Fairtrade products made by grassroots women’s groups in Nepal . All my products are based on traditional arts and crafts.
Q. What is your favorite part of being a small business owner?
Sushma: I get to deal directly with the customers most of the time. I love to talk about the products and inform customers about the artisans and how each purchase makes a real difference in the life of the artisans and their families.
Q. Can you share a story of how your brand helps empower these women in Nepal?
Sushma: Meet Artisan Chu Maya Purja , Illiterate and unable to walk because of polio, Chu Maya Purja from Myagdi had lost all hope to be independent and live her life with dignity by earning a living. After hearing about Women’s Skills Development Organisation](WSDO) from her relatives, Chu Maya Purja came to WSDO office in Pokhara in 2003. This visit, she says, changed her life forever. After meeting with Ram Kali Khadka, the founder and executive director of the Organization she began learning to sew and make bags and handicrafts. Today, the 42-year-old trains other women like herself and helps them overcome personal and social obstacles. “WSDO helped me become financially independent. I am happy to have the skills to support myself and not rely on anyone else,” she says. In 2011, Purja even travelled to Kenya as part of a two women team from Nepal to participate in WEIGO’s (Women in Informal Employment).
Q. I know your a mom and small business owner so free time isn’t always plentiful but when you do have free time, what do you like to do?
Sushma: I love to work in my vegetable garden at home. This is a therapy for me. Beside this, I love doing yoga for relaxation. I am crazy about traveling and meeting and talking to people.
Q. How fun! Now, what can we expect to see from Sunavworld in the next few months?
Sushma: Sunavworld is revamping and rebranding products made by Women’s Foundation. These are beautiful handwoven scarves in various natural fibers such as cashmere, silk, linen, cotton, etc.
Q. Thanks so much Sushma for your time and willingness to share a little bit more with us about your brand.
Readers, stop by the Local Gem to see what we have that’s new from Sunavworld!