OF WOOL AND WEEDS - Crafting for Non-Profits

Thank you to everyone who got us to Kathmandu this year!

We accomplished what we set out to do - designed a line of products for the felt program at House with Heart.

Paige, Aria and Ellen coming up with ideas for the felt. 

I’d love to continue this work of educational programming where students get hands-on experience working with non-profits, in addition to supporting non-profits’ goals, so I’m hoping you might consider donating again for my birthday - the equivalent of a beer!

I’m in the process of developing a line of products - also made by the communities we work with - that will eventually help support this work, but for now we are dependent on our own funds and whatever we’re able to raise through events like these, to help cover the costs of travel and accommodation.

The plan now is to bring a second set of students to Nepal in the summer of 2020, to work on two projects: we’ll be continuing our work with the women at House with Heart in addition to working with a bamboo community on the outskirts of Kathmandu who have solicited our help.

Neither House with Heart nor the community have funds for design work - we are happy to provide this voluntarily  - we just  need a little help to get there.

Below is a video recap of our trip + next steps (made by Aria, one of the students who came this year), and you can read even more about our plans/project further down the page.


An especially BIG thank you to the two little girls in Norway who sold their toys and donated the proceeds!

A recap of our project:

This very first trip took us to a girl’s orphanage in Nepal - House with Heart, a home for abandoned Nepalese children as well as training center aiming to instruct women in crafting skills such as felt-making of sewing, providing an opportunity to make an income to support their families.

Economically, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and getting women into the work-force enhances their children’s chances at getting an education and receiving health services. This is a first step out of the poverty trap.

Currently, House with Heart’s felt-program creates a range of skillfully made products, including slippers, scarves and christmas ornaments. Our aim was to introduce original designs and begin to rethink future retail opportunities in order to help the non-profit meet the program’s upcoming goals.

We spent a total of 10 days working with the women of the felt program, and were able to design 4 new items for their product range in addition to photographing and cataloguing their current collection and making vital connections with other non-profits that can forward their goals.

42191038_156918420832281_r.jpegEllen, Paige and Aria entertaining the girls of House with Heart.

42191038_156918489899519_r.jpegOne of the 3 sunglass cases designed by Aria. 

Our next steps:

During our visit we learned that wool products are highly common in Nepal, and our current objective is to give the HwH products a competitive edge by exploring other material opportunities, particularly plant-based grown in local land-improvement systems:

Nepal is known for it’s successful Community and Leasehold Forestry systems, initiated to alleviate poverty through the (1) restoration of degraded land and (2) further use of the sustainably managed vegetation (by creating for example house-hold products).

As many of you know, Kathmandu severely flooded this summer, emphasizing the need for healthy surrounding vegetative systems that can control soil erosion, landslides and absorb excess water. Projects that support Leasehold Forestry systems, help increase cultivated and rotationally harvested vegetation, providing both economic and ecological (benefits such as erosion control).

In regards to House with Heart, our intent is to encourage use of these community-cultivated materials, to further differentiate HwH’s products. 

We highlighted 4 common species grown by different community groups and systems: The opportunistic Himalayan Nettle, Bamboo, Sal and Broom Grass.

We have already been introduced to an indigenous community who cultivates bamboo with help of Mr. Shankar Adhikari, a Nepalese forester. This group has also solicited our assistance for an eco-tourism project that would bring vital income opportunities for their community. Currently they create bamboo baskets which they sell at the market for $1 a piece. The plan is to identify new products that could be made and sold to future visitors.

42191038_1569184504896979_r.jpegMeeting with members of the bamboo community.

42191038_1569185013578563_r.jpegHaving dinner with Mr. Shankar Adhikari and his family, a forester from Nepal.

Learning outcomes for students:

An important aspect of this program is to introduce design students to designing for the non-profit world. As few organizations have a budget for design, we initiate a 3-month fund-raising scheme: Here students learn and are responsible for raising funds to help cover the cost of the trip.

By connecting non-profits with designers, we can also demonstrate first hand how designers can promote and enforce the non-profit’s goals, potentially leading to employment opportunities for a new generation of caring designers.

Please continue to support us!

Quick recap:

Your funds will specifically help cover costs of travel and accommodation so we can:

(1) continue the work with the women in the felt-program, which provides vital income opportunities for the women and supports the activities of the orphanage. Our next steps are to build guided ‘design’ workshops where women learn ‘how to design’ - how to come up with unique, independent ideas, in addition to incorporating new materials, giving their designs a competitive edge.

(2) initiate a secondary project with the Bamboo community - we’re enthusiastic to carry out a dual-project, considering the amount of carbon spent flying from the US to Nepal - more ‘bang for the buck’.

(3) provide hands-on experience for design students who wish to seek out alternative design careers working with non-profits, in addition to learning new skills such as fund-raising.


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Christine Facella 
Brooklyn, NY
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