By the summer of 2007, despite having no building, Norlha was going full blast. Thirty people worked in two tents, creating our first products while construction went on, both kindled by the hope that the building would be ready by winter and we would have something to show in Paris for the Spring of 2008.
As we progressed, Dechen and I thought of ways to show our artisan’s work. We took our first product shots in the summer of 2007; works in progress, the artisans with their lengths of fabric or training pieces set up in front of them. We let them do the styling. Some chose the monastery as background, others opted for a motorbike, or the workshop mascot, a little tula called Metok Tso or Ocean of Flowers. In the fall, we had our first real shoot, rented the neighbor’s three wheeler and made our way up on the autumn pasture. We borrowed a yak and shot with the magic expanse of incoming clouds as our backdrop.
By the next Spring, we had a clean, warm space to work from and had picked up a few clients in Paris, the main being Arnys, a beautiful men’s store on the Rue de Sevres. They loved our story in all its rawness and had our artisans embroider ‘Fait sur le Plateau Tibetain pour Arnys’. We also began to work for Sonia Rykiel learning to dye and weave in a multitude of stripes, and made samples for Saint Laurent’s Cruise collection. By then, we had created different types of thread, mixing our yak khullu with silk and cashmere to obtain lighter products. This time we used the bare Spring pasture as backdrop, then the greening of its expanses. As I look at these photos again, I reflect on how much younger everyone seemed, and how we have all grown and learned together.