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Interview with TDM Design owner, Michelle Baldwin

Sustainable Luxury Scarves From Nepal

Press Yours Sustainably Our beautiful hand woven and hand printed bamboo luxury scarves from Nepal featured in Fashion Me Green

What is your professional/education background?

I graduated with a B.A. from George Washington University and immediately began working for the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.  As soon as I finished college, I also started as an entrepreneur and created the Federal Research Company.  FRC serviced law firms, financial institutions, factoring companies and fortune 500 companies.  Ultimately, I sold the corporation to CBC Companies so that I could turn my focus towards sustainability and social awareness. 
What drew you to Nepal, and when did you first visit?

I was consulting a textile company who was manufacturing in Nepal.  The more I learned about the country and people, the more drawn I was to it.  During my many visits to the country, I saw the immense potential in what the Nepalese women weavers create by hand and the incredible beauty of the fibers.  I wanted to bring that back to the states so I created my own accessories line around their gorgeous creations

Detail from our stylish Livi scarf Detail from our stylish Livi scarf

 
What was the state of the textile industry when you first went to Nepal?
The Nepalese have been creating pashminas for years.  I wanted to use their skills and teach them new skills that would bring their talent, high quality and beautiful fibers into contemporary fashion in the west.  I wanted to make sure that my textile accessory company would set itself apart in the field with a strong emphasis on giving back to women in Nepal, a country and populace that truly inspires me.
Can you give us a brief description of the production process of your scarves from raw materials to final product?
Nepali by TDM Design accessories are made from natural materials such as silk, cashmere, bamboo, modal and wool and eco-friendly azo-free dyes. Every piece is hand crafted (hand loomed, hand dyed or printed, hand finished) with passion and dedication.

Detail from our Sadie scarf Luxury scarves, detail from the Sadie design

How has your involvement with the communities you work with benefited them?  Do you work with just one community or many?
My company provides sustainable income to Nepalese women and helps weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them above market compensation and access to education and health care.  We completely fund our teams’ school-aged children’s education from pencils to uniforms to lunches.  Nepali by TDM Design assists in empowering Nepalese women, their families and their communities. I believe that income generation opportunities and support for social values enhance and reinforce each other. Nepali strives to strengthen the role of women in today’s Nepal and educate their children as the country moves forward.
 
What are your favourite parts of your business?

There are many parts of the business that I love.  I love travelling to our team in Nepal and visiting the children in school.  I love seeing the how our scarves transform outfits – it’s always fun to see our scarves on someone walking down the street in NY or Washington or LA!  I love opening boxes and seeing the final product that I’ve designed and our team has created...

Detail from our Bambi Paisley scarf Detail from our Bambi Paisley scarf

What are your long term goals for the business?
My goal is to continue to build our team in Nepal.  We currently have around 125 women who work with us.  I’d like to see that number continue to grow each year
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