The White Yak is an ethical textile and leather goods company committed to empowering the peoples of the Himalayas through combining traditional textiles with modern designs.
Why The White Yak?
The story behind The White Yak name comes from a story about a young man attacked by a bear and near death. The father of the dying man decided to offer a sacrifice to try to save his son. The father's sacred animal, a white yak, was offered as a living sacrifice by sending it away into the Himalayas.
According to the story, the young man survived, and this all occurred during the same time as the Mani Rimdu ceremony.
Still today, the Himalayan peoples, Tibetans and Ethnic Tibetans both, deal with many dangers and troubling times. Bears, earthquakes, and landslides still threaten the people. However, new dangers also threaten them: difficulties for traditional sources of income (the farming, herding, and trading are dying economic supports for these people), cultural loss and even extinction, as well as human trafficking.
We at The White Yak take inspiration from this story of sacrifice. The culture of the Himalayan people has many beautiful aspects, including the traditional textiles. The aprons worn by the Tibetan and Ethnic Tibetan women express their artistic skill, beautiful colors like a rainbow around their waist, the wool taken from their animals, the practical use of an apron as they work hard in home and field, and often indicates that a woman is married.
Fairly Traded, Ethically Made
Our products are derived from two primary sources. The pangdens are designed, handwoven, and worn by the the women of each Tibetan ethnic group. Each pangden possesses distinct characteristics to communicate the woman's marital status and place of origin. Every pangden used in our products are directly purchased from the women who have handcrafted them.
Our leather is sourced from Sheong Shi Tannery, which is an ethical, fair wage tannery. Patrick Lee who owns the tannery goes above and beyond to create what is called "eco leather" which means he takes into account the environmental impacts of his tannery and works to minimize them. For example, what makes our leather different is that it is not treated by any harsh chemicals that most other leathers are treated with, and is instead treated with natural vegetable extracts. This gives our leather a more natural look and feel.
Our factory is located in Kathmandu, Nepal. We believe in sustainable fashion where every aspect of our business, materials, and individuals, meet our high ethical standards.
We are a Social Enterprise
We believe the best way to positively impact the community we are a part of is to create a sustainable business model, provide dignified jobs, pay fair wages, and offer ways for our employees to grow and learn in skills that allow them to provide for themselves.
Our vision is the improvement of life for those we are working with in Nepal. Whether it be monetary stability or learning skills, we believe everyone deserves the chance to know their true worth.