I remember coming home from our 6-week backpacking trip through India and Nepal; I was devastated to be leaving such beautiful places but also slightly excited. I had a package waiting for me at home that I had sent from Nepal weeks earlier. I had shipped a few bags back from Kathmandu with a view of starting an exciting new business venture; an online shop selling sustainable clothing and accessories.
During our trip I was so inspired; our university flat was full of Indian tapestries and decoration, and now I was in the middle of it all. There was such beauty and skill everywhere, the craftsmanship second to none. We were spoiled with choice and welcomed by the locals with open arms; chatting to shop owners and being offered chai. However, among the beautiful temples and stunning architecture, I couldn't help but notice that we were surrounded by extreme poverty and pollution. It was the first time in my sheltered life that I had witnessed anything like this first hand. My roll in all of haunted me this, I was confronted with the reality of my choices. The realisation that everything I bought had consequences was a tough pill to swallow; behind every dress, t-shirt, or piece of jewellery, I wore there was a real person. For the first time, I was among these people, getting to know them and their culture; it was no longer an abstract concept, and it became apparent to me that I had to help somehow.
I have always been a 'bag person' some women like shoes, but it's always been bags for me. I was an art student and photographer, meaning I carried around a lot of stuff. A good bag with efficient pockets is like gold to me. So, naturally, I found myself attracted to backpacks when shopping in India. I came across some Hemp backpacks and became curious about the industry and how the plant was made into fibre. I fell in love instantly! Hemp is one of the most sustainable fibres on the planet, and it is a massive industry in Nepal; just the place we were headed to next on our journey...
Nepal had my heart from the beginning; it is like India only slightly calmer. (bearing in mind it was only calm because we had just flown in from New Delhi). The people are incredible and will do anything to help you. That's why I'm so grateful that I met Yubaraj in Kathmandu; he has a bag shop and small factory that he runs with his family. They use sustainable Hemp fibre harvested and spun in Bajura village in the Himalayas. I spent some time chatting to Yubaraj, learning about hemp and visiting his family in the factory; I knew they would be the perfect team to work with. I put in a small order of bags and had them sent home to Scotland to wait for me until I arrived home..
And so, Niyama Co was born! I built a website, took some photos and launched
SO... where are we going from here? Some BIG changes have happened, as you may have noticed. We recently decided to do a full rebrand and change our name from Niyama Co to 'Hemp & Hope'. We decided to do this for a few reasons, the main one being that Niyama is hard to remember and spell for us westerners. I know when my mother can't spell it, we may have a problem... The second reason was down to domain and trademark issues; we concluded it wasn't worth fighting for and took it as an opportunity for an exciting refresh. We chose the name 'Hemp & Hope' because it reflects our brand's ethos; we are much more than just a shop but bring prosperity to others and our environment. It's catchy, memorable and spellable (You'd better remember this one Mum...) As our brand continues to grow, our name needs to grow with us, and this time it feels just right.
Thank you for the bottom of my heart, and if you made it this far, then extra brownie points to you! I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback and words of encouragement; as a 'one-woman operation' the little things mean a lot. Stick around for updates and follow our journey on all of our socials, I hope this was an exciting insight into what we do!