Norlha means ‘Wealth of the Gods.’
For the nomads of the Tibetan Plateau wealth is the yak, the provider of all their needs in food and fiber.
An Integrated Brand
In order to ensure the finest quality, Norlha embraces the entire life cycle of its textiles. From the animal in the pasture to the treatment of the raw material and the creation of our finished products, ours is an integrated approach. We are a vertical company: To make each and every one of our exceptional products Norlha relies on the talent of its artisans and designers, and on the rigorous commitment to quality that is part of our DNA.
The Artisan Matters
The world of business has three elements: Owner. Maker. Consumer.
A successful company is often rated in terms of a happy owner - profit - and a happy consumer - cost. Between these two is the maker, who is often squeezed in the middle, particularly in fragile communities where they are vulnerable to exploitation.
At Norlha we know that a happy maker is essential in the creation of a successful product. We combine unique materials with the skill of artisans to create that special product, knowing that real quality can only be achieved by well rewarded people who value their jobs and are proud of their work.
A Brief History of Norlha
Norlha Textiles was founded in 2007, following two years of research on the possibilities of transforming yak fiber into a high added value product for the luxury market.
Norlha’s founder, Kim Yeshi, was convinced that the yak’s dense under coat, or khullu, held special properties. In 2005, she sent two of her children, Dechen and Genam, to collect two tons of yak wool from the Machu and Zorge Ritoma areas of Amdo. Once cleaned and de-haired, the fiber was loaded on a truck and transported to Katmandu where it was spun and woven.
The result was beyond expectation: yak was lusciously soft, warm and durable. In December 2005, the team was ready to launch Norlha Textiles.
Yak fiber was a local commodity in Zorge Ritoma, where it was decided the workshop would be built, and the people from the area seemed to have a natural inclination for spinning and weaving. Though the technologies they used were based upon tradition they were insufficient for the levels of production Norlha sought to achieve.
So Norlha’s founders took an innovative approach by introducing a mix of more versatile techniques taken from Nepali and Indian spinning and weaving traditions that were well adapted to a village setting. Dechen and her team went for training in Cambodia where they learned silk weaving, then to Nepal where they learned to weave wool. They returned to Amdo with looms, charkhas and two trainers. Thirty local people were hired and trained in large tents while the workshop was under construction.
By November 2007, the building was completed and the team began production. In January 2008, Norlha presented its first products on the Paris market.
Norlha will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. We now count 120 year round employees, with clients in Europe, Asia and America, five showrooms and a strong social media presence in China and around the world.
Kim Yeshi, President & Co-Founder
The concept behind Norlha was formulated and implemented by Kim Yeshi. Kim studied anthropology at Vassar College (BA) and Buddhism at the University of Virginia (MA). Kim has lived for 30 years in Asia where she has researched and produced textiles and handcrafts.
Dechen Yeshi, CEO & Co-Founder
Kim would not have gone far without her daughter Dechen running the workshop and training its personnel. Dechen is the product of two cultures, Tibetan and Euro/American. She makes a perfect bridge between the Tibetan village community and the demands of the modern luxury market. Dechen and Kim are a close-knit team who work together seamlessly.
Dechen graduated from Connecticut College where she majored in Asian studies and film. She has lived in Amdo since 2005 when she began to research the economics and dynamics of the region. She single-handedly trained all the staff and established the infrastructure for the Norlha workshop.