Local Women’s Handicrafts was founded in 2008 with a big goal:
To lift women up who have been marginalized and exploited; to give them opportunity, skills, and a sense of dignity; and to spread our model of empowerment across the world. Nasreen Sheikh founded LWH as a small shop in Kathmandu when she was still a teenager. Having already survived working for two years as a child laborer in a sweatshop, she opened LWH to take control of her own destiny and give herself the kind of hope she’d previously never thought possible. Nasreen soon began to train local women to make handcrafted textiles they could sell at her shop. As she saw the women gain confidence and light return to their eyes, she realized she had the opportunity to spread this work across the world and empower disadvantaged women everywhere. Through the LWH entrepreneurial empowerment model, our goal is to empower 10,000 women in the world’s poorest regions by 2025 and create a textile industry that honors sustainability, human rights and dignity.
We envision a world where women are leaders in their communities —
in control of their own lives, their own rights, and their own decisions.
Handcrafted with love by women
coming together to change the fashion industry
We work in Nepal, one of the least developed countries in the world, where only 2% of women own businesses. We support women and their children by providing them a safe place, free from violence and negative social pressures so she can feel safe, experience self-value and heal from trauma.
Through offering skills development in handicraft production and literacy education, we empower women to generate their own income and support their children in a healthy and sustainable way.
We grow and harvest raw materials locally and we recycle discarded materials from big factories, using 100-year-old looms that don't need any electricity. We are plastic free, cruelty free, chemicals free, and pollution free.
We’re working towards bringing an end to fast fashion, freeing women from sweatshops, and protecting Mother Earth. Handcrafted with love by women coming together to change the fashion industry. We’re committed to giving supply chain transparency to our customers.
True Empowerment is not charity. True Empowerment is not aid.
True Empowerment is creating opportunities for people to lift themselves up by providing...
Our Empowerment Centers
Our production facility teaches professional skills in fiber crafts, entrepreneurship and sustainability. After completing the four-year program, the women have an option to work at the center receiving a fair salary or open their own small businesses. Our comprehensive model supports the whole woman so she can feel safe, experience self-value and heal from trauma. Our focus is on ethical fashion, we model sustainability by collaborating with local farmers and small businesses. The women design, sew, embroider and weave, creating hemp backpacks, yoga mats, home decor, unique clothing, jewelry and shawls. With the support of a dedicated and passionate team, we have established a safe community that’s changed hundreds of lives. We are determined to continue building resilient and self-sustaining communities of smart, empowered women.
The women at our centers are thriving, but sadly, there are still over 40 million people who remain in modern-day slavery. We are campaigning on behalf of them by advocating for the 7 Keys to eradicate modern-day slavery. The door to human rights has been locked for too many years. Fair trade and eco-conscious businesses hold the keys which can unlock the door of freedom to millions of people, so they can realize their full potential. With that vision, we invite good people, businesses, and media to work together. Through raising awareness and making fashion in an ethical way, our goal is to eradicate exploited labor, forced marriage and extreme poverty. Let’s build a new society where every person is free to be a leader, change-maker and problem solver!
LWH supports women and their children by providing them a safe place free from violence and negative social pressures. Our Empowerment Centers are designed with the women's physical and emotional safety in mind, using our first center in Kathmandu as a model. It’s adjacent to a national park and has an organic garden, creating a peaceful environment for women to feel safe and connected with nature. The centers are managed by inspiring women who have been trained to take care of others in need. The Kathmandu center is surrounded by high, secure walls and is powered by electricity 24 hours a day. Other features, such as an underground water storage tank (with two months’ water supply for emergencies) and the use of biogas for cooking, assure the women’s safety during times of personal struggle or natural disaster, both of which are all too common in Nepal. Our solar panels provide warm water for women to take a shower. The Empowerment Center buildings are designed or retrofitted in an environmentally sustainable way using local materials for construction. They’re fire safe and designed to be resilient to earthquakes.
At the centers, our staff holds activities that help build bonds within the community and support mental and physical well-being. They have daily greetings of hugs, group yoga and meditation sessions, and all the women grow and cook food together. Our centers also provide support for women to participate in local fairs and festivals. LWH also connects our women with mentors from other countries. Our mentors are women who have a sense of personal and professional purpose and support the women in the centers. By connecting with mentors, our women have the opportunity to form personal bonds outside of the centers that will last beyond their time in training.
In communities in Nepal, men dominate traditional societies. As a result, there are many human rights abuses and atrocities against women and children that go unpublished and even unnoticed. All of the women that come to LWH have experienced some sort of trauma or societal oppression by their husbands, families, or communities. At our centers we seek to help heal trauma through a safe, supportive community and use techniques such as yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breath work). We also help traumatised women and children cultivate a sense of hope and let them discover their own identity as individuals through education, skills development, and economic empowerment.
Pathway to Income
Women in Nepal are largely involved in subsistence farming — unpaid labor which rarely provides substantial income. Through offering skills development in handicraft production and literacy education, LWH empowers women to generate their own income and support their children in a healthy and sustainable way. Women receive a stipend during their time at the center to cover their costs, as well as food from the garden to reduce their need for outside income. After going through the training, LWH continues to support women as they create a sustainable income for themselves. Some women continue to work for LWH as trainers and managers. Everyone is eligible for micro-finance loans to open their own small businesses in their communities.
In many countries, including Nepal, women are not educated. In fact, they’re often kept from school for most or all of their lives. This is a huge barrier that keeps them from being empowered as business owners and social changemakers. LWH addresses this by connecting women with education in literacy, feminine hygiene, environmental sustainability, and more. We also work directly with young girls to help them understand and express themselves in relationship to social issues that affect them using drama and art.