It’s a special thing when a simple material is made to be both functional and beautiful—which is just one of many reasons we love MUSKHANE, our October Maker of the Month. Founded in 2003 by Thierry and Valérie Billot, a husband and wife team with a passion for fair trade and equitable commerce, MUSKHANE partners with artisans in the Himalayan region of Nepal to create beautiful goods from natural, renewable materials, felted wool in particular.
Read on to learn more about MUSKHANE’s origin, the merits of felt as a material, and more!
MUSKHANE as a unique origin story—could you explain a little more about how your company came about?
My wife and I discovered the Himalayan region during a social mission—we fell in love at first sight when we arrived in Nepal. When we completed our two-and-a-half-year contract, we decided to put down roots in the beautiful city of Kathmandu.
The idea to develop a stronger local economy and to celebrate the exceptional artisanal craftwork of the region has come quite naturally. After we carried out a study of Fair Trade that put us in contact and dialogue with artisans, we created MUSKHANE.
After 15 years in Nepal, our family is now back in France where we pilot the company from the heart of the French Alps.
Sustainability and fair-trade form the ethos of the Muskhane brand. How do these practices inform the processes and materials that are used by your artisans?
The raison d'être of MUSKHANE is to share a meaningful human adventure. All of our products are handmade from the finest natural and renewable materials available: sheep's wool, Nepalese cotton, and paper.
We are committed to giving a fair price to the artisans so that they can achieve a comfortable living wage. Rather than negotiate a low price, we ask our suppliers to deliver high-quality materials within the stipulated timeframe.
How do the vibrant culture and natural beauty of Nepal and the Himalayan region inspire MUSKHANE products?
Nepal is brimming with treasures and talents, it is an endless fount of inspiration with its wealth of materials, traditional skills, and colors.
The country sometimes struggles to get by on limited means, yet the beautiful and the sacred embellish each moment. We love sharing all this wonderful energy through our products.
“The raison d'être of MUSKHANE is to share a meaningful human adventure.”
What are the merits and unique qualities of felted wool as a material?
Felt has many virtues! Made from wool, hot water and soap, felt is a thermal but also phonic insulation material. These properties make it possible to imagine eclectic and useful objects, such as trivet to protect a table, wall hangings or rugs that will insulate from cold, humidity or noise, or more simply, cushions to sit comfortably and protected from the cold. Felt is also a hypoallergenic material that does not promote the proliferation of bacteria or mites, all without releasing harmful chemicals.