April Tang, who is Taiwanese, and her Tibetan partner, co-founded the first Shangdrok
workshop in a remote Tibetan village in 2015. Initially hiring half a dozen women whom they endearingly call their aunties, Shangdrok has concentrated on the crafting and distribution of a range of yarn and textiles.
Tang points out on her website that not so long ago, virtually every nomadic Tibetan woman could spin, weave, and make felt, but with the influence of modern lifestyle and market trends, the traditional skills are gradually dying.
Shandrok’s mission is to help keep these techniques alive while providing job opportunities to local nomad women, utilising traditional skills and materials at the same time as connecting them with outside markets, providing a source of income and renewed pride in their cultural heritage.
Shangdrok products include natural-colour and hand-dyed yarns, kits, finished knitwear, and felted hats and vests. Tang says, ‘All of our products are produced by these simple yet genuine northern nomads, who are just like us– not perfect, not flawless. They do not ask for much. As long as they do not need to be separated from their families and their culture, and as long as they can live and work in their own villages, it is all worthwhile.’