Little Beach Boutique

Last week I visited Nepal, a country I have been returning almost yearly to since 2009, when I first went as a volunteer.  

As well as revisiting the orphanage where I originally volunteered and continue to stay in contact with, I paid a visit to the workshop where our felt slippers are made, in the Kathmandu Valley.  

I spent time with Ramji, who leads the team of expert crafters who together produce our range of beautiful animal booties which we sell here in Little Beach Boutique.  I made a short film of him talking me through the process, which you can watch here

Ramji and his wife in their felt workshop in Kathmandu.  They lead a team of 15 artisans who produce their very own range of unique designs including our bestselling felt animal slipper.

 

He talked me through the process of felt making, from weighing the individual balls of New Zealand wool, rolling the pieces into a tight fabric... 

 

Felt slipper making, rolling the wool in to a tight fabric so it retains its shape when worn

 

...and shaping the wool using nothing but soap and water.  Ramji explained the importance of using only hand soap, no harsh chemicals, to keep the process as safe and sustainable as possible. 

 

Shaping the wool with soap and water using hand soap rather than harsh chemicals

 

The rolled felt is shaped around a shoe mould after being worked with hot water to shrink the wool to give it strength...

 

Wool is worked with hot water to shrink it to produce strong felt

 

The shaped pieces are hung to dry in the sunshine, which you can see in the picture below, with the beautiful Himalayan sky behind them!  Soles are glued and stitched onto the bottom of the slippers after drying.  There is a little pile of tigers and sheep in the middle waiting for their bases to be stitched on - they are on their way to us in Little Beach Botuique in Brighton after that!

 

Felt slippers being line-dried in the sunshine. String soles, also made of felt, are added with toxin-free glue after drying.

 

Ramji's team are made up of 14 women and 2 men from all over the Kathmandu Valley.  Some have worked with him for 16 years and together they are always coming up with new designs.  Our favourites are the rabbit and sheep slippers, and we have lots arriving in plenty of time for Christmas!...

 

You can view our full range of children and adult felt footwear here  and here.

 

Finally, I will leave you with some other pictures I took in and around Kathmandu on my travels...

 

Kirtipur, in Kathmandu, with the foothills of the Himalayas in the distance

 

Swayambhu Temple and prayer flags

 

Bye for now!

 

Suzanne x

Written by Suzanne O'Leary — September 26, 2016

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Welcome to Little Beach Boutique

An independent shop in the North Laine, Brighton, we sell a handpicked selection of gifts, handmade accessories and homeware alongside our own collection of glass, designed and created on site.

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