Meet Matt and Choti
Everest Designs is a small, family owned and operated company. Founders and owners Matt and Choti Skousen are committed to the well-being of the communities they grew up and continue to live in. Choti was born and raised in the mountains of Nepal with her Sherpa family. Matt was born and raised in Missoula, Montana where current U.S. warehouse operations occur.
Everest Designs works directly with the artisans of Nepal to produce high quality knitwear. Choti has been an invaluable resource in this process as a native who can speak many dialects with the people in the area. People are the most important part of what we do. We value the people who carefully and skillfully create each item in our catalog by hand. We offer them fair trade wages in return for their beautiful works. We hope to provide a better life for them while creating a one of a kind product for our customers. Together, we are creating a hand-made item that is unique in our mass-produced world and embracing the people and communities where they are made.
We aim to create styles and craftsmanship that lasts a lifetime. Women's knitting cooperatives working in our facilities, in small village groups, or even at home bring to life the warmth and beauty only found in natural wool. Wool, if properly taken care of, has the potential to last a hundred years or more. As a bonus, wool is hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and can always be recycled and reused.
We have four core values here at Everest Designs:
Sustainability, Fairness, Creativity, and Community
We believe in creating long lasting, high quality knitwear that stands the test of time and is a result of community-based efforts. Fairness is one of the key driving forces of our business; fairness to the environment, to the artisans, to our employees, and the communities we love here and abroad.
We take pride in the fact that we do not follow a traditional business model. We are a family oriented, fair trade business that strives to thoughtfully and meaningfully contribute to our community. The very nature of the American outdoor industry is a fairly progressive business model to begin with. We are constantly seeking new ways to continue being a part of such a forward-looking community and to contribute to the conversation.
We believe in paying it forward. That is, giving back to the communities that have, and continue to, ensure the success of our business. We donate annually to organizations that actively seek to fight for social justice and human rights as well as organizations that seek to help individuals improve their lives such as battling addiction, overcoming poverty, among so many other causes.
We share our story and the mission of our business on our tags that are placed on everything we sell. We want to let you, our customers, know that your purchase supports and sustains Nepali women.
Why We're Here
Nepal is one of the poorest places on earth where malnutrition, hunger, and illiteracy continue to persist. The average monthly income is approximately $150 USD. The tap water is not drinkable, it must come bottled or be boiled in hopes of killing bacteria. The education levels in Nepal are, unfortunately, some of the lowest in the world. Many of our artisans live in rural communities which means that many of the older children must quit attending school to help out at home and contribute financially to the household. For young women, there are even lower enrollment rates as many women marry before graduation age. On top of everything, schools are often located miles away and they must walk very long distances, which in turn, means lost time helping out the family. So how can we help?
Our producer facility, Himalayan Knitwear, works together with our artisans in Bhaktapur, Nepal. We offer fresh drinking water, food and a safe building that withstood the 2015 earthquakes with no major injuries.
Himalayan Knitwear is made up of 150 employees, almost all of whom are women. Most of our artisans are rural farmers who live in and around the valley of Kathmandu. We use our position as a knitwear company to not only employ but teach new artisans over time. This is in hopes that we can provide as much opportunity as possible and sustain our growth. Because they reside in villages and more often than not, are maintaining a farm and providing for a family, our knitters have the unique opportunity to create during their downtime. Knitting provides much needed access to an extra income while also allowing these individuals to utilize their spare time. If our artisans choose to keep knitting, they can learn more advanced techniques and move into higher paying positions.
Himalayan Knitwear is owned and managed by Sachindra Pradhanang, with whom we have maintained a business relationship with for over twenty years. In the facility, our artisans can often be found sitting in circles completing knitting, embroidery and assembly of clothing pieces. There are multiple rooms that serve different purposes and house different tools/machines such as hand-knitting machines and sewing machines. Other rooms are used for packing and cutting. We also have several quality control tables where every aspect of our products is inspected before it heads off to packaging.
All of the individuals and companies that we deal with are long held relationships built on loyalty and trust. We've stayed with our suppliers through earthquakes, wars, and severe economic crises. We have maintained our relationships even through closed borders and extreme political issues. We're woven together, just like our products.
Welcome to the Family