Woolenstocks is a London-based company with a mission to empower women of Kyrgyzstan, offering them a way to support their families by hand-making traditional felt slippers. A craftsmanship that stems from ancient Nomadic times of the Kyrgyz makes for unique creations that warm your feet and your heart. The founder of Woolenstocks, Arwa Fahad, speaks further on why traditional craftsmanship is important for the local women in the Himalayan community.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
What is the story of Woolenstocks?
Our first story came from the Himalayas. Tired from trekking, Woogo sought healing for his painful, blistered feet. He came across a tribe dancing in their village. Each wore a pair of beautiful slippers – the most colourful Woogo had ever seen. When they saw Woogo’s sore feet, the tribe’s skilled artisans crafted him a unique pair of slippers by hand. The slippers brought Woogo comfort and soon he was dancing to celebrate with his newfound friends.
Now, Woolenstocks bring unique stories from all over the world. Every pair is crafted with love, time and skills to give you comfort and restore your energy – ready to dance again. Woolenstocks also bring joy to the women who make the slippers, as they earn their way out of poverty.
Where did you get the idea to start selling their unique handicraft?
The idea came when a friend got them as a gift for me. They were so warm and comfy, their bright colours made them lively and fun. I wore them all the time. Friends and family started to admire them and ask how they could get a pair, too. That’s when the idea of creating Woolenstocks, the traveling monster who had sore feet and wanted comfort and warmth, came. I started researching and contacted the lady behind the first beautiful pair. She gave me the full story about how women create those slippers. It takes 40 hours to produce one pair. Each one is unique and has its own story. When you buy those beautiful slippers, the money goes to the women, who create them, to help them support their families.
"Nomadism represents freedom for the Kyrgyz. It was freedom to travel and search for the life one wants."
Making of Woolenstocks #Savant
Tell us a bit about the community you work with.
They are from the Himalayas in the Kyrgyzstan area. Nomadism represents freedom for the Kyrgyz. It was freedom to travel and search for the life one wants. Now they strive to embody the ancient nomadic spirit in every craft they make. The crafts travel through the moments of life with the people who use them and become the nomads of time. Their aspiration is to recreate the old things and meanings that have stood the test of time.
What does your contribution mean to the local women?
Woolenstocks tries to find unique crafts and ideas from all over the world, and ways to help communities, by introducing their amazing products to the rest of the world. We try not to interfere in the production process, but rather suggest an idea and let them create it their own way.
"For nomadic people, felt was at the core of their existence. It accompanied nomads throughout their entire life. People ate on felt, and slept on felt."
How are the slippers created and what makes them unique?
Each pair is handcrafted with love and affection. As I mentioned, it takes 40 hours to produce a pair. Each pair has its own story, so each one is unique. They are created using felt wool that is dyed with natural colors. It is not an accident that felt lies at the heart of our production. For nomadic people, felt was at the core of their existence. It accompanied nomads throughout their entire life. People ate on felt, and slept on felt. They wore felt and constructed their movable dwellings – yurts - with felt. Felt provided warmth for the home, comfort for clothing and ease of transportation in pursuing nomadic life. It is truly a great pleasure working with a product that will help women support their families, or educate them. It also gives fulfillment to see the products loved by the people who buy them.
Purchase your own fuzzy Woolenstocks slippers and support the community at www.woolenstocks.com