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Talk to Nigel Majakari, the founder of the Danish company Ca’lyah, about weavers and tapestries and you’ll quickly see his passion for the subject is palpable. His concern for the weavers runs deep. “We want to elevate the craft and particularly tell the story of the people we work with. I love the people and their stories,” he says. “It made a lot of sense to work with GoodWeave®.”

So profound is Nigel’s commitment to helping the weaving community that even when he says the name of his company, Ca’lyah (a blend of two Sanskrit words that suggest ancient art and craft) it is almost an invocation. And that reverence is no surprise since Nigel was interested in theology in his early twenties, but he knew early on that fixing the world needed practical ideas and hands on hard work. With his passion for community development and later a graduate degree in international marketing he refocused on how entrepreneurship can achieve development impact. Nigel’s life’s work has been in development, supporting micro and small enterprises including craft enterprises. “It was the crafts that sparked an interest in me,” he says. Ca’lyah’s Tibetan hand knotted tapestries, he explains, are the outgrowth of his years of experience in development in underserved nations.

One result of all Nigel’s years of experience with artisans and crafts is the partnership Ca’lyah has developed with Denmark’s multi award-winning textile and color designer, Margrethe Odgaard. It is Odgaard who has created Ca’lyah’s visually remarkable Versus Tapestries. This first edition of hand-woven Tibetan wool and silk tapestries in four bold color field combinations tells the stories of color and light, Nigel says. But there is more, he says. “I wanted specifically to use the Tibetan knot as a way to tie the tapestries to the journey and stories of the people as they traveled from Tibet into Nepal” Odgaard sees her work with communities and cultures similarly. “I’m trying to engage with society in a different way and to take social responsibility,” Odgaard says. “I’m looking to create design that not only replies to human behavior but also interacts with it and creates some kind of difference.”

This joint artistic and metaphorical journey for social justice that has produced what some might call magical tapestries seems to resonate with Ca’lyha’s customers who Nigel describes as people who understand color and have an appreciation for handcrafts. He wants, above all, for the buyers of Ca’lyah’s tapestries with their simplicity, light and bold colors, to feel something, an emotional lift, a connection to the history, the struggles of and the enormous skills of the artisans. The partnership with GoodWeave is an important component of Ca’lya’s mission. As Nigel points out however, there is so much more to be done. “We are not finished. We can do more.”

Nigel’s mission, he says, is what one might call a positive collision of development and craft. “It is a partnership to help our partners in resource challenged areas to build, grown and improve. Business in the most resourced challenged communities and countries” he continues,” is a means for us to address important issues in partnership.

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Photo Credit: Irina Boersma César Machado