Tashi Lama, Nepal | Thank God it’s Fair Wear

Written by Fabiana Seitz, Photography Jenny Milow

“Support the people of my homeland. Help them lead a better life. That is what I have always wanted.

My education was also only made possible thanks to a sponsor from Switzerland. I had no idea who he was, and yet he supported me financially for ten years. To this day, I remain grateful for this.

After my studies in Delhi, I worked in the carpet factory of my uncle in Nepal. In the evenings, when the shift was completed, I taught the women of the factory various things, for example how to write numbers or their own name. Simple things, taken for granted by others, and yet essential for an independent life. I also volunteered in a children’s home. One day, the founders of the children’s home told me about a young woman from Switzerland who was in Nepal as a volunteer. She had the dream to combine the Nepali craft of scarf production with Swiss design. She was looking for someone who could support her in implementing her business idea. Our connection was purely professional when I met my future wife Carmen. We knew immediately that we shared the same values. We not only shared a passion for beautiful fashion and sustainable textiles but perhaps more importantly we both wanted to make a difference. Do something good. Support the people in Nepal. And that’s how we founded TGIFW, Thank God it’s Fair Wear.

In April 2015, the production had hardly started when it was abruptly stopped. A devastating earthquake, 7.8 on the Richter Scale – the likes of which Nepal had not experienced for decades – destroyed over half a million homes and caused more than 30,000 casualties. It was just horrifying.

While others might have seen this as a sign to give up the dream of a Swiss-Nepali fair fashion and living label, we renewed our commitment to continue. Especially in these challenging times, the people in Nepal needed work. We commission Nepali women and men to produce scarves and clothing – and recently hand-knotted carpets – under fair working conditions using sustainable materials. Every product sold supports the people in Nepal by investing a part of the profit in multiple social projects.

I have been living in St. Gallen, Switzerland – the hometown of Carmen – for four years now. Our showroom, which also serves as storage and our office, is located in the middle of the old town. We are on the right track, but there is still a lot to be done. Even though I now find myself surrounded by the Swiss mountains, studying German and running to catch the train on time – I still feel obliged to make my contribution to the development of Nepal.”

November 2020