Meet Our Artisans: Deki Yangzom
When looking through our Chews Happiness product line, you’ve probably noticed words like “unique,” “handmade” and “artisanal.” But what does that mean, exactly, for you, your pup and the planet?
It means that we don’t simply choose a design we like and hand it off to some huge manufacturer to replicate by the thousands. That’s because we believe happiness can only be spread by giving back to others, which is why we are so committed to supporting artists and traditional lifestyles both here in the U.S. and Bhutan.
To create our one-of-a-kind designs, garments, collars and leashes, our Chews Happiness Officers work closely with master women artisans like Deki Yangzom. Deki is originally from Lhuntse, in the Eastern part of Bhutan. The village is famed for making kushuthara, a traditional pattern with intricate details that requires years of practice and patience.
Deki grew up in a family of weavers, where the tradition has been passed down for generations from mother to daughter. “Weaving is a skill that women in my family and village are equipped with…for sustenance, as a hobby and to keep our traditions alive,” she says.
As a little girl, Deki helped by winding yarn balls and setting up looms. At 14, she began learning weaving from her mother and grandmother. The first garment she wove was a kera (belt) and then progressed to bigger and more detailed clothing.
After completing her university studies, Deki returned to weaving. “That is where my true passion lives,” she says. “I didn’t want to graduate and get an administrative 9-to-5 job with no room for creativity. I always knew I was made for the loom, the yarn, the colors and the passion it took to make them.”
Weaving is like painting, according to Deki. “I pretty much enjoy everything including the work that goes on to it,” she says. “Like picking color combinations and dyeing the yarn and deciding which patterns to use. I personally feel very rewarded when I see my finished product and being able to see tangible results.”
Deki now works with her mother, Jambay Zangmo, to create our Happiness Hugs, collars and leashes. “Working with my mother has been very fun,” she says. “We have a mother-daughter formula that works. I can’t think of anyone better than my mom to work with especially with weaving because she has been my guide and support ever since I was little.”
For Deki, weaving is also a way to preserve Bhutanese traditions. “I take so much pride in my roots,” she says. “In Bhutan, weaving and dyeing are very unique and special, passed down from our ancestors. I believe these traditions need to be preserved and maintained in order to maintain a sense of what being a Bhutanese encompasses. Because I value my traditions I am very happy to be playing a part, no matter how small, in promoting and preserving the traditional methods of weaving.”
So what would Deki like Chews Happiness customers to know about her country and her people? “Bhutanese people are the warmest people,” she shares. “We are from the land of happiness and mountains. We are simple people who don’t need much and are appreciative of the smallest things. We smile a lot which explains the premature wrinkles on our face.”
Every purchase of a Chews Happiness product ensures artisans like Deki are able to preserve their traditions, their lifestyles and their passion. Check out our entire line of handwoven, artisanal Hugs, collars and leashes, and help us spread happiness to pets, people and the planet.