How this Swedish brand supports local artisans in Nepal

HomeBrand Spotlight

Welcome to Trayde's Brand Spotlight series, here we take the time to appreciate the wonderful members of our platform. We have created this section to share inspiring stories on brands, their products and the meaningful purpose behind them.

                               ABOUT THE MAKER

Photo Courtesy: Kalilo

Today, we are highlighting one of our members, Daiva - founder of Kalilo, an independent brand providing handmade garments, using high-quality natural fibres from products to packaging, treated with non-toxic dyes which are safe for the environment and the people.

Daiva loves indulging in new cultural experiences, meeting new people, and constantly learning about the world.  She is a huge advocate of quality and simplistic designs which is truly represented across the brand. With Kalilo, she aims to bring the joy of handmade clothing by working with small businesses in Nepal to help revive its traditional craftsmanship, where artisans are ensured of fair wages, good working conditions and receive fringe benefits.

                               ABOUT THE BRAND

Kalilo does not merely provide products, it's more than you see. Made with lots of love and care by their handpicked suppliers, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is what sits at the core of the brand.

Photo Courtesy: Kalilo

What inspired you to create Kalilo and what is the aim behind the brand?

I started Kalilo with the idea of how current mass-producing brands engage with consumers over mere business transactions with a lack of story within them. I wanted to create Kalilo in a unique way, with a soul and a story. I want people to know there is a person behind this, we are different, we want you to be connected to Kalilo whenever you engage with us.

We chose to work with small businesses in Nepal due to my personal love for the country, its natural beauty, and other compelling reasons of course. Nepalese handmade cashmere apparels were highly known in its historic days, much before the rise of fast-fashion, socio-political situations and dwindling cottage industries started to kill small industries and traditional craftsmanship. With Kalilo, I want to help revive Nepal’s artisans and support small local businesses.

What are some of the products you have created/developed that are closest to your heart? Please share them with us!

I am totally in love with Yak Wool and I would say that all the types of wool are quite special to me. At the moment, we have limited options but we are looking forward to expanding our collection, so stay tuned for that! These are three different products that are close to my heart for various reasons:

Shawl Soyak is special, this product ended up being a happy accident actually! We were quite skeptical about its size, it felt slightly big and we quickly realized that perhaps, using a knitted scarf as a size reference for a woven piece was not a great idea. However, Shawl Soyak grew on us eventually, its generous size means it's very versatile and can be worn in several ways. It’s undyed and only comes in its own natural colourways - gray/brown and can easily complement any outfit.

Photo Courtesy: Kalilo

Another garment that is extremely special to us is Moli sweater, our bestselling product. Moli is everything but loud, its simplicity is in line with our brand philosophy when it comes to design, which is inspired by Scandinavia's minimalism and timelessness. Made using almost half a kilo of the finest responsibly sourced cashmere, this signifies its heavy, soft, and warm. We want people to truly enjoy this conscious and guilt-free luxury.

Photo Courtesy: Kalilo

Scarf Lapu. When we decided to make scarves from bamboo and especially charcoal bamboo, we didn't quite know what to expect. Bamboo isn't anything new, however, they are usually used for socks and undergarments and mixed with cotton. To our surprise, it turned out extremely nice and in terms of comfort, it’s absolutely amazing! Produced from charcoal bamboo, this signifies that scarf Lapu is dye-free and only comes in shades of its natural hue - grey.

Photo Courtesy: Kalilo

Where do you sell your products?

Our products are available on our online platform and at certain sustainable marketplaces. In addition to this, we also offer our products through various boutiques and retailers through wholesale marketplaces. We are always seeking purposeful collaborations and expanding our reach.

How did you adapt to the current situation? What are the challenges you faced and how do you tackle them?

The beginning stages of the growth of the Coronavirus led to a complete denial for us, we refused to believe what was happening when it wasn’t declared as a pandemic yet. As a fresh new brand, we are used to the continuous change in the performance of orders and the use of different channels. We accept the behaviour of the business gracefully and view it as a learning opportunity for growth.

Initially, we hadn’t seen an impact on the made-to-order requests and business operations in Nepal continued as normal. However, soon after, we found ourselves realizing the extreme impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods, and business in general but we continued to work with our partners in Nepal as a gesture of goodwill.

During such a volatile and unpredictable atmosphere, we started to doubt ourselves and question whether it was worth continuing to proceed with our business operations. I believe this was fear speaking for itself, as we saw a vision of not only a change in the production process but also in the dynamics of our blog posts, social media engagement, and marketing.

Amidst all the difficulties and challenges, we were able to accept the situation and believe that there are great positives to celebrate too, where we have seen businesses come together and support one another representing such solidarity. We believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will do everything to continue our journey at Kalilo!

What have been some of the proudest moments for you as an entrepreneur?

It’s hard to believe that Kalilo was just an imagination a year and half ago and now it’s a reality that has come a long way! Some of the proudest moments for me has been when reputed design studios have approached us to be featured in their fashion shows. Vogue UK had recognised us too, but we could not afford their pricing at the time. This gives us massive confidence in knowing that we are doing the right things as a brand which motivates us to continue moving forward!


How would you say the near future looks like for independent brands like yours?

I think the future is bright for independent brands. If you take a look at the consumers today, they are conscious about what they purchase, we see consumers becoming more curious about the impact of products on people and the planet. We have seen a shift in behaviour, from slow travel to slow fashion, now slow lifestyle is catching up and that is only good for independent brands.

It is within our DNA to stay unique. In an era of accessibility and mass production, where the same items are owned in abundance, we aim to deliver artisanal and handmade products which by design are unique and in demand. One of the most positive things that have become apparent during this lockdown, is the impact of our choices which has resulted in the healing of the planet. There is no denying that we need to do more as citizens of the world, this is also something that will attract people towards small independent brands that produce in small batches, or locally and have inherently low carbon footprint.

What are some encouraging words of advice you would give to emerging businesses currently?

The best advice I can give is to have patience and prepare yourself for the small bumps, especially the ones that you haven’t even considered - there will definitely be some along the way. When I started Kalilo, I never thought it would be so hard to pick a name. We came across various appealing names but registering the business with any of those names was a challenge. Business names must be validated across the EU and even if there is a partial match to an existing business it is a big no-no. I suggest to avoid buying a domain until you are fully registered with the brand name you truly desire.

Visit Kalilo's wholesale shop to stock up on their products.

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Written by
Jahnavi Jethani
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