A little about the crafts people we work with ……

Mongolian Cashmere and Crafts in CirencesterMongolian Cashmere & Crafts is the only known shop in the UK dedicated to supplying uniquely Mongolian products. We are aware how important it is to know where and how our products are being made and source our Cashmere, Felt and Embroidery products carefully.

Mongolia has long been a land where traditional crafts are important and the skills handed down through the generations. While the first wave of modernisation under the Communists during the mid 20th Century brought in many new machines and possibility of foreign goods, it has been the last 15 years that has seen the greatest shift. For many crafts people in Mongolia the relatively cheap train line to China and Russia with their giant textile markets and emphasis on shiny new manufactured goods has meant a massive decline in small scale or family businesses.

On the flip side, the last 10 years has also seen a positive surge of interest from other foreign countries to help Mongolians reinvigorate their economy through Micro- Business enterprises. All of the individuals and groups we work with are known to us personally and are uniquely able to supply us with small quantities of bespoke designed clothing and accessories. Therefore we are able to offer you truly unique items which you will not find anywhere else and the piece of mind that the producers are benefitting fairly.

 

Kazakh EmbroideryEmbroidery

Woman embroideringThe beautiful Kazakh embroidery we sell is being produced for us in the western part of the country by a small women’s cooperative we have known for many years. It was started by an amazing American woman who lived out there (and taught Marina English!) with support from the Mongolian Women’s Federation to support the herding families in the area. She has very sadly died now but the cooperative she set up continues to thrive and provide an important income to around 15 women. Being very far from the capital Ulaanbaatar (where most of the national industry and money dwells) the region is blessed with stunning scenery but very high unemployment (50% or more in some villages).

The hand stitched embroidery has always been a staple for women and girls but the international appeal had not been recognised until recently. Under the cooperative, new skills have been learned about quality control as well as colours and designs which suit the Western taste. It would be a great shame if such a rich culture and skill were to be lost - which is why we are always really happy when our items are bought and enjoyed by people here.

 

Monglian felt suppliersFelt

Handmade Mongolian FeltFelt is such a great versatile fabric and has been in use as a material in Mongolia for thousands of years. However until recently it was only really recognised for its insulation properties leading the designs and production to be very utilitarian. It is with the support of a few Western charitable organisations in the last 10 years that felt accessories have been able to enter the international market place as well as widen the colour range and applications possible.

Our items are coming from two cooperatives who work in the Capital and surrounding counties. The first is a small group of 6 highly skilled ladies under the support of a national development foundation. The second group are a consortium of 10 small cooperatives (approximately 250 home producers in total) all from disadvantaged families. The group initially had support from a European Charity to set up, but now run as a successful independent enterprise.

 

Mongolian Cashmere suppliersCashmere

Cashmere remains a national treasure and there are many producers in Mongolia of varying scale. Where possible we like to purchase from Mongolian Cooperatives or small businesses as these most directly benefit the people themselves and enable us to sell individual and bespoke items. baby cashmere goatMost of our cashmere accessories are produced by a great little women’s cooperative we know well in the capital which has close ties to the Textile University. This support has helped them improve their products through the use of international volunteers and national specialists as well as learning about international textile standards.

Where the cooperative is not able to produce the items we need then we have a couple of other nationally owned producers we work with including a small producer in Selinge County  and one in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. While the Cashmere items are made on a machine, they are usually hand finished and produced in quantities of only one or two at a time.

 

Ideas for the future

Mongolia is full of further crafts and styles as yet undiscovered by the wider world. Over time we hope to widen our range on offer to include unique hand made and tooled leather items, hand made silverware, as well as paintings and artwork which evoke the feeling of the open Mongolian Steppes …….watch this space!