Artisans working with Nivas in Nepal have carefully crafted this felt décor by hand. They are primarily women who are refugees, displaced, single mothers, and divorcees. Most of them have had limited access to a formal education and are the sole providers for their families. Nivas means home, sanctuary, and comfort zone in Nivāsa. Nivas seeks out these women to train and hire them so that they have an opportunity to earn a living wage in a safe and supportive environment. The primary goal is to empower these talented women to achieve financial independence so they can sustain themselves, leave abusive situations, make decisions, and have their voices heard.
Nivas recognizes that when mothers work, their children are able to receive a quality education and stay in school. With a further dedication to the artisans’ growth, Nivas covers school fees for many of the children of artisans. The artisans can work on a flexible schedule, work from home when possible, take tea breaks together, and rotate tasks when seasons change, allowing them to build upon their skills. They also have the opportunity to bring their children to their workspace if needed. Artisans have access to household financial training, literary programs, health programs, and training programs to grow in their professional careers.
Nivas prioritizes using only natural materials, with a commitment to the environment at-large. To create the felt garlands, artisans at Nivas use wool, cotton thread, soap, and water. The dyes are also non-toxic AZO-free, and any scraps of fabric can be reused. Once the dye has been applied to the wool, a sheet is felted, a pattern is cut, the pieces are stuffed and stitched together, and the garland is strung together. During the wet felting process, warm water is applied to the wool with repeated compression and hand-molding. The fibers intertwine and shape the product. During needle felting, intricate details are added and the fabric is hand-stuffed and hand-stitched according to the design. Approximately three to four artisans work together in a collaborative, empowering environment.