Norlha provides training and long-term employment opportunities for local nomads and families, equipping them with skills to become expert weavers, spinners, tailors, dyers and felters at the Norlha Atelier. Over the last decade, Norlha has spent 40,000+ hours training local nomads in vocational, management & textile skills, training 150 artisans who now use their exceptional skills to create high-end textiles from yak khullu. 

Norlha’s first employees had never done anything other than herding, and most had never seen the inside of a classroom. Still, they applied their natural skills to weaving, felting and administering. In the past six years, Norlha has employed an increasing number of young people who though born as nomads, attended some school and prefer a job to herding. The yak has brought change with continuity and this new generation of rural Tibetans an alternative way or life, offering access to today’s world while remaining rooted in their environment.

Creating a bridge between our global community and family of artisans in Ritoma, we have invited 4 Norlha artisans to share their favorite pieces with us.
Pagpa Tso འཕགས་པ་འཚོ།

Pagpa Tso was one of the first ten people to be trained by Norlha. Her  steadfastness and perseverance is one that has awed all of us at Norlha, and made her into one of our best weavers today. "Not a single thread will escape me" She catches every break in her weave and fixes it, making her products a favorite of the finishing team. She too loves the Tibetan Shirt, a piece she feels to be timeless and could be worn with her Traditional robe.

Dugmo Kyi འབྲུག་མོ་སྐྱིད།
Dugmo Kyi was a young nomad girl looking to work at Norlha Atelier when she applied for the available position of a model. During her down time, Norlha trained her in an artisanal skill of her choice. After trying her hand at felting, she found her place in the knitting section. Today she is married and lives with her husband and grandmother. She is shy by nature so quickly turned more towards knitting than modeling. She loves the feel of the yak yarn in her hands and the constant, unwavering rhythm of the needles. Her favorite piece is the neck warmer that she knits for Norlha.

Sonam Kyi — བསོད་ནམས་སྐྱིད།
Sonam Kyi is from a large family in the village with 3 brothers and 3 sisters. Her network of nieces, nephews and cousins runs deep in the village. A weaver at Norlha, she enjoys most being able to work side by side with her sister, daughter, brother-in-law and niece. Traditional by nature, she loves Norlha's Tibetan shirt, the fabric of which is often woven by her.

Menlha Tso — སྨན་བླ་འཚོ།
Menlha Tso is the mother of two beautiful daughters and four grandchildren. She started working at Norlha in 2010 and when the felting section opened in 2012, she applied for a change of position. She was known to be one of the best felters in the village and today is our master felter. Menlha often says that her eyes are in her touch, and that is the secret to felting. Menlha Tso's favorite Norlha product is a felt slipper. "If your feet are warm, the rest of you is set!"

Gonpo Kyap — མགོན་པོ་སྐྱབས།
Gonpo Kyap started working at Norlha at the age of 19 and quickly applied to become a weaver. He is one of our fastest trained weavers, finishing a year's training in just three months. Gompo always has time to help his fellow artisans in adjusting their looms or helping them maneuver through a more complicated weave. An exemplary family man, Gompo always finds time for his wife and three sons and often on Summer days he can be seen with family on the hillside enjoying an evening picnic. Gompo's favorite Norlha piece is the long coat, the fabric of which is often woven by him.