Norlha means ‘Wealth of the Gods’.
For the nomads from the Tibetan Plateau, wealth is the yak, the provider of all their needs in food and fiber.
The yak gives Norlha its primary fiber. Yak khullu, the soft layer of down that protects the yak from the bitter winter winds is the basis for all of Norlha’s creations; weaves, felts and knits. We source and select the best fiber through our own networks of herders spread out over thousands of miles of grassland. At Norlha, we understand the fibers’ inherent qualities; for the last twelve years, we have researched ways of bringing out the natural qualities of this inherently soft, highly insulating and wear resistant fiber to give it the place it deserves among the precious wools of the world.
Norlha weaves and felts yak khullu in a way that brings the best out of this precious fiber, using a mix of innovation and tradition. This not only brings yak khullu to the level it deserves, but makes the process sustainable.
Norlha produces yak wool fabrics and accessories for the global luxury market. Since 2005, we have operated from Ritoma, a village of a few hundred families on the Tibetan plateau centered on herding yaks.
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 that relies on the talent of its artisans and designers, and on the rigorous commitment to quality that is part of Norlha’s DNA, to make each and every one of our exceptional products.
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 equation of a successful product and 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 and modern technology. 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 in a 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
Norlha’s President Kim has three decades of experience living and working in Asia in the field of traditional textiles and handcrafts production and sales. Prior to Norlha, Kim led a multinational team of over 400 people at the Norbulingka Institute in Northern India to develop and market handcrafts and textiles created by traditional Tibetan artisans for markets in India, the United States and Europe. Kim is fluent in French, Tibetan and English.
Dechen Yeshi, CEO & Co-Founder
Norlha’s CEO Dechen began research in rural Tibet for transforming yak wool into a luxury product in 2005 and has lived there full time ever since. Dechen established the infrastructure for the Norlha workshop, trained all the Norlha staff, and currently leads all aspects of Norlha’s operations in Tibet. Dechen is fluent in English, Tibetan, Mandarin and Hindi with working knowledge of French.