We had to build a new warehouse in order to stock all the colours. Plus, some of the knotters refused to work on the carpets. They have to switch color constantly, sometimes for every knot. It’s impossible to manage more than a centimetre (0.39 in) a day that way, which is extremely frustrating. It can take up to six months to complete a single carpet.
How hard is it to find young talent for this type of work?
These days, young people in Nepal or India have many more options open to them than 20 years ago. They can also work in a mobile phone factory or on a building site or go and work in Dubai. Although we pay above-average wages and offer families living quarters on our factory grounds, day nurseries, and pleasant working conditions, young people are nevertheless no longer interested in the strenuous task of knotting.
So what are you doing about it?
I’ve just launched a campaign with a fair trade organization to make the occupation appealing to young people again. I’m seeking to preserve a craft that has so far been passed on from one generation to the next, but is now at risk of dying out. Today, we’re able to produce virtually any antique design. Clients come to me requesting a traditional carpet, and we can supply it. We’ve developed a special finishing technique to give the carpets a patina that makes them look as if they are several centuries old.