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世界屋脊上的作坊 | 从青藏高原到纽约时尚大道

2015-07-21 益西德成 一席 一席
益西德成是具有藏族血统的美国人,Norlha牦牛绒手工作坊CEO。在甘肃南部的仁多玛村,Norlha只拥有几排不起眼的木头房子,然而就在这里,当地的藏民用最传统的编织工艺制作围巾和披肩,在欧美市场上销售,客户包括路易威登、爱马仕和巴尔曼等奢侈品牌。 

世界屋脊上的作坊
益西德成
读大学的时候,大概12年前,有个人说过一番话带给我很大的触动,我想以此作为我今天讲述的开头。

那是一次聚会上,我的一个朋友过来跟我说,这是我们一生中最美好的时光,从这以后就是江河日下,找工作,还房贷,担责任,生病吃药。


这句话深深击中了我,我记得我当时想,这真够让人郁闷的,我当时上大学,过得很开心,但是难道人生就是这些了吗?所有的美好就这样结束了吗?


就是从那一刻开始,我决定,不能让大学成为一生中最美好的时光,我开始问自己一个很古老的问题,什么能使我们快乐?什么能让我快乐?我的答案已经有了,那就是目标感。

回顾之前在美国的生活,我迅速意识到,我没办法在那里做出什么贡献,临毕业决定去留的时候,我母亲给了我一个去青藏高原的机会,开始接触我身份中藏族的那一部分,我父亲是西藏人。我还记得她说,带上你的相机,到那里去拍个电影。那时候我正痴迷于胶片与摄影这样看来这个建议再完美不过了,紧接着她还加了句在那儿记得收集点牦牛绒。

牦牛绒?我问,我们要那个干吗?

她简洁地回答了我:可以用来做纺织品。

我对纺织品一点兴趣也没有,不过我还是答应了会带一点牦牛毛。人们经常询问我,对高原生活的第一印象是怎样的,我到的时候是六月中旬,我还以为那里是夏天了,于是穿了件T恤,夹个人字拖就去了。当我下大巴的时候,迎接我的却是倾盆大雨——真冷啊,这就是我的第一印象,再有就是贫穷,牧民生产肉和奶制品,那里没有厕所,没有自来水,牧民妇女的生活也很艰难,我开始对我的相机和拍摄当地人这件事变得谨慎起来。


渐渐地,我的注意力转移到了另外一件事,就是妈妈之前提到过的牦牛绒,如果牦牛绒真的可以被制成非常珍贵的纺织品,那么一个村子里的小作坊,一个村子里的小工作室,就可能意味着工作,意味着生计,渐渐地,我的“目标感”在这一点上有了雏形。几个月后,我真的许下誓言决定一生致力于此,于是在家人的指引下,也是在妈妈和家人的支持下,我开始招募团队,有时候会一直聊到凌晨,仅仅为了说服牧民们,我可以带来他们一直期待的改变。

也许你们会想,为什么要改变呢,这里的生活多美,简单,自然,原始,纯净,我也曾经这样想,直到我和一个牧民家庭相处了一段时间,并且开始看到这种“纯净”生活背后的艰辛,特别是牧民妇女,她们早上三点就得起床,在夏季的几个月里,她们的一天从挤牛奶开始,接着她们还要用牦牛奶制奶油,她们要晾晒奶酪,捡拾牛粪,意外随时可能发生,在拥有超过一百头牦牛,和四百头羊的牧群里,可能会有狼来袭击牧群,传染性的疾病可能会爆发,如果你不够小心,致命的传染病会毁了整个牧群,还有雷电和雾这些气象灾害。

随着世界的不断发展,地球变得越来越小,距离越来越近,年轻的牧民开始意识到,现代社会席卷而来,而他们依然禁锢于传统,像其他人一样,他们成为今日时代中的一份子,父母们觉得越来越难说服他们的孩子继续做牧民,当然也有一部分家长想让子女们过上另外一种生活,但我又算什么人呢,我只是个23岁的小丫头,我当时看起来更像18岁,当时也确实没有什么东西真的把我和这块土地联结在一起。万一他们放弃了牧群,我却改变主意,甩手回美国,那怎么办?

我招募的元老级员工是Dunko和Dugmo,就是照片上的这个人,还有他的妻子。他们来自富裕的牧民家庭,所以,改变生活方式对他们来说是个更艰难的决定,尽管对于我们讲述的那些现代生活的诱惑,他们有些跃跃欲试,但是他们毕竟没有读过书,很担心风险。我还记得和他们谈话直到凌晨,我在他们的屋子里,那个屋子有两个房间,他们一年在此住五个月,剩下的时间里,他们要跟牧群一起游牧,搭帐篷。




屋子的大部分被一个炕占据。有天晚上我们一起坐着,盘点了牦牛绒所有的利益点,以及这个项目能够如何给村子带来工作机会,我想,关键的转折点终于来了,当我提到说,我有个男朋友,就来自附近的村子。这夫妻俩交换了个尴尬的眼神,因为那里非常保守,但是我觉得,正是这点笃定了他们的想法,事实上这最终让我真正和这里联系在一起。


第二年,我的男朋友成了我的丈夫,随后两个孩子的出生更加固了我和这块土地的联系。最后, Dunko和Dugmo这对年轻的牧民夫妇决定加入我的由牧民组成的小团队。他们把游牧生活的事宜交给了妹妹接管,决定跟着我试试,不管结果如何。那一刻我止不住地想,“这一刻终于来了!”

然而回首往事,我真心地感激他们做的这一重大决定,以及给予我的这份信任。我真的非常感恩,能够跟如此坚强的家庭共同开展这个项目。到今天,我们度过了无数的挑战,现金流一直是个挑战。所有的对房子、设备和培训的投资,以及我们需要负责的调查研究,资金来源也非常有限。我们别无选择,只有拼命工作,做出在市场上真正成功的产品。这也有助于我们更好地持续发展。

现在我和我的家人,我的丈夫和父母,以及我的牧民团队,我们创办了Norlha工作室,一个世界屋脊上的作坊,制造牦牛绒产品以及配饰。这些产品远销纽约和巴黎的各种时尚大道。我们和Sonia Rykiel合作。事实上我们的事业是从Sonia Rykiel开始的,我们在色彩方面获得了很多启发:




我们也和年轻的设计师合作,比如Pigalle。我们用牦牛绒生产围巾,为Balmain和Lanvin做过秋冬系列的配饰:




我们还和Haider Ackemann在男女的秋冬和春夏系列都有合作:




我们还在2012年为LV做过一个特别款系列:




我们现在有124个员工,其中116个人都来自同一个村子。对于其中的一百多个人来说,这是他们人生中第一次做这种朝九晚五的工作。所以很多人都难以适应,尤其是男人,因为在他们整个一生中,从来不需要听从别人安排工作。时间观念对于他们来说,也是完全陌生的。我记得刚开始工作的时候,每次正干着活儿呢,他们就起身出去了。我问他们要去做什么?得到的回答是,回去喂猪啊。


不过后来,随着这份工作带来稳定的收入,大家逐渐改掉了旧习惯。今天,这个作坊成了村子里雇员最集中的地方,对当地经济起了滚雪球般的带动作用。比如说,餐厅开了两个,商铺也开了不少,精明一点的小贩还会在发工资的那天叫卖一些小商品。工人们开始有信用可以贷款,为他们修缮住宅提供鼓励和帮助,开始买一些他们过去认为不必要的东西。一群“中产阶级”开始在Norlha的雇员中产生。




现在我想讲一讲作为一个商业公司的Norlha。我们是一个产销一体的公司,这就是说,从原材料牦牛绒的采集,到产品的设计和生产,我们越来越多地作为一个品牌出现在市场营销里,我们把控着整个产品链。

为什么有必要把控产品链呢?因为身处在一个不断强化快速和廉价趋势的时代里。Norlla想要生产具有内涵的产品,美好的、可以带来改变的产品,在这个时代中越来越缺少的,有故事的产品。

在这里,我们不是为了让富裕的人更富裕,而是想创造一种产品,这种产品可以提供就业机会,使得创造者能为之自豪,最终消费者也能珍惜并想要传给后代。为了保证我们所有的价值观都能被满足,把控整个产品链对我们而言是至关重要的。

所以Norlha和其他做牦牛绒产品的公司到底哪里不一样呢?大部分人对于牦牛绒存有误解,认为它非常稀少。其实正好相反。在青藏高原牦牛非常多,过度放牧简直都要成自然灾害了。但是如果牧民不放牛要干嘛呢?他们不得不去镇上做一些建筑工的活儿,体力上更苦且有淡旺季之分,收入不稳定。

如果从牧民手里买牦牛绒会怎么样呢?从牧民手里买牦牛绒,是无法全然改变他们的生活的。因为平均每只牦牛能产半公斤牦牛绒,而大多数时候,这对高原来说也是损失。牦牛会脱毛,他们在夏季的月份里会脱很多毛。所以如果你不及时给它们薅毛,就是一种损失。一公斤牦牛绒的市值是2美元,所以一个四口的牧民之家养了100头牦牛,每年只能挣100-200美元。这点小钱对于牧民们来讲,根本就是杯水车薪。

因此,只有在原材料上增加附加价值,并且在这片土地上提供就业机会,才是对这些人来说真正有意义的改变。所以Norlha开了一个雇佣当地人的小作坊。这有双层影响:一方面,在环境上我们能够遏制过度放牧的情况;另一方面,我们使得,丈夫可以和妻子待在一起,孩子可以和母亲待在一起,老年人也可以在家乡享受天伦之乐。

那Norlha又是怎样给最终消费者带来改变的呢?我们回想一下自己的衣柜,还有我们的房子和那些我们拥有的数不尽的东西,有多少只是源于我们无尽的欲望呢?有多少只是让富裕的人更富裕了,又有多少催生了其他国家恶劣的工作环境,甚至可能催化了雇佣童工。而现在,又有多少东西,最终贡献给了世界上不断累积的垃圾堆?

可能有些人会说,没关系,我们可以负担得起。但其实人们常说,“少即是多”。为什么不只买一件你会珍惜?而且可以一代一代传下去的东西,这会让你的消费更有自主意识。而不是买上10件20件注定要被丢进垃圾桶的商品。

市场掌握在消费者手里,一旦我们作为消费者开始问这些问题,那么市场将会开始提供更多正面影响的产品,世界将会变得更美好。Norlha就是想把纺织和更多的生活方式结合在一起,凝聚着信任和担当。

Atelier on the Roof of the World (点击查看英文原版)


When I was in university, about 12 years ago, someone once said something that really struck me, and I think that's the beginning to my story today.


I was at a party and someone turned to me and said, a friend actually, and he said, “This is the best time of our lives. It all goes downhill from here: jobs, mortgages, responsibilities, medication…” And this sentence really struck me, and I remember thinking, “how very depressing!” I mean I was having a great time in college, but was this it? Was it all going to end here?

And right then and there I was determined not to make this the best time of my life. So then I began to ask the age-old question of “what makes us happy?” “What would make me happy?” And for me, it was a sense of purpose.

Looking around me at life in the United States, it quickly became clear that I couldn't make any real contribution there. So then this was right around when I was graduating and my mother offered me an opportunity to go to the Tibetan Plateau and get in touch with my Tibetan identity. My father is Tibetan. I remember her saying, “take your camera, go out there, make a film.” And at the time I was into film and photography, so this seemed like the ideal proposition.

And then I remember she added, “While you're out there, collect some yak wool.”“Yak wool?” I asked her, “What are we going to do with yak wool?” And she answered simply, “We can make it into textiles.” “Textiles?” I wasn't in the least bit interest in textiles, but I agreed to collect some yak wool.

People often ask me what my first impression of life on the plateau was. I had arrived there in the middle of June, expecting it to be summer. I was wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops. And when I stepped out of the bus, it was pouring rain. “So cold!” was my first impression, and then the poverty. Well, nomads have plenty in terms of meat and dairy produce. There were no toilets, there was no running water, and nomad women had really tough lives. I started to feel really conscious about my camera and filming people, and slowly I began to turn to the alternative that my mother had presented: yak wool.

If indeed yak wool could be made into a precious textile, then a workshop in a village, an atelier in a village, could mean jobs, could mean supporting livelihood. And slowly my “sense of purpose” from that point started to form shape. And it was a few months later, that actually I made a vow to dedicate my life to that end. So then with the guidance of my family, and with my mother and the support of my family, I set out to recruit people. And sometimes it took talking into the early hours of the morning trying to convince nomads that I would bring them the change that they so wanted.

And some of you might think that “But why change?”It's such a beautiful way of life: simple, natural, authentic, and pure. And I thought the same thing as well, until I spend some time with the nomad family and I started to see the challenges behind this ‘pure’ life.

Nomad women especially have to wake up at three in the morning during the summer months. Their day starts with milking the animals, and then they have to prepare churn the milk into butter, they have to dry the cheese, collect the dung, and there's no end to the things that can go wrong in herds that are over a hundred yaks and four hundred sheep. A wolf can attack a herd; contagious disease can spread, wiping out an entire herd if you are not careful. There is the lightening to worry about, the fog.

And then in the world, we are increasingly now it’s becoming smaller and smaller and closer that young nomads are more aware of a modern world just swinging by, leaving them stuck in the traditional. And like any human anywhere, they want to be a part of what is now and what is today, parents are finding it harder to convince their children to remain as nomads, and indeed for many parents they want an alternative for their children. But who was I? I was just a 23 year old at that time, and I looked like an 18-year-old. And there was nothing to really tie me to the land. What if they gave up their herds and then I changed my mind and returned to the US?

My first recruits were Dunko and Dugmo. Dunko is in the picture here, and his wife Dugmo. And they were actually from quite an affluent family, nomad family. So that meant that changing the cross of their lives was an even bigger decision for them. And while they were really attempted by what I was, and while they wanted be a part of the modern world, offering they had never been to school, so they were worried about the risks.

And I remember they took me talking to them late into the early hours of the morning. And I would be in their house. It was made up of these two rooms and they lived in the house for about 5 months of the years; the rest of the time they would move camp with the animals. And the room was largely dominated by a heated platform called Kang.

And then one night I was sitting there and taking about all the benefits of yak wool and how it could bring employment to the village. When I think, finally the turning point came, when I mentioned that I had a boyfriend, who was originally from the neighboring area. Dunko and Dugmo, his wife kind of exchanged embarrass glances cause it’s conservative over there. But I think that this help to reassure them considerably, Because finally here was something that really tied me to the area.

The next year my boyfriend became my husband. And then two children followed, further cementing me to the land. So then finally when Dunko and Dugmo, the young nomad couple, when they decided to join my little team of nomads, they passed on the reins of nomadic livelihood to Dunko’s younger sister. And they decided to take a chance with me, for better or for worse.

And at the time I remember thinking “Finally!” But in retrospect, I really appreciate the magnitude of their decision, and the trust that they've placed in me. And I'm really thankful for having started this project with such a strong family.

Today, we have all been through numerous challenges. Cash flow continues to be a sort of challenge. All investments whether in building, equipment, training, research in development we’ve been responsible for. And with limited help from funds, it has really pushed us to work as hard as possible to make a product that is truly successful in the market today.

And this in turn has helped to pave our way to be truly sustainable. Today together with my family: my husband, my parents, and my team of nomads, we have built what is Norlha Atelier, a workshop on the roof of the world that produces yak wool products, accessories sold on the fashion boulevards of Paris and New York.

We’ve worked with Sonia Rykiel, actually we started our career with Sonia Rykiel, we learned a lot about color. We worked also with younger designers, such as Pigalle. We usually do all the scarfs that are made out of yak wool. We’ve done winter collections for Balmain and Lanvin in the accessories. And we continue to work with Haider Ackemann in both man and women Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer collections. And we also did a special collection for Louis Vuitton in 2012.

Today our workshop has 124 employees. 116 of them are from a single village. And for more than 100 of them, this is the first time in their lives that they have a 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job. So for many of them, men especially, that was difficult. Because they had never in their lives before, answered to someone. And the concept of time was completely new to them.

I remember in the beginning, sometimes they will just get up in the middle of the work and walk out. When we asked them where they were going and they would say, “oh, to feed my pig.” But then, with a steady source of income has quickly helped to change old habits, and today with the workshop, as a center of employment in the village, there has been a kind of snowball effect to the economy in the village.

For example, two restaurants have opened up, several shops have opened up. Savvy vendors come peddling their goods right after payday. The Employees are becoming more eligible for loans, which has encouraged them to fix their houses or help them to fix their houses, and to buy things that they would have once seen as unnecessary and frivolous. So a kind of middle class has developed out of the employees in Norlha.

Now I ‘d like to explain a little bit about Norlha as a company. We are a vertical company. So that means that from the collection of the raw material yak wool, to the production and design, now more and more as we emerge as a brand to the marketing and sales, we are in control of the entire chain of activities.

So why is it necessary that we control the entire chain? Because in the world where everything is becoming increasingly fast, fast, fast, and cheap, cheap, cheap, Norlla is trying to produce something with a soul. Beautiful things that make a difference and tell a story are becoming rarer and rarer in today’s world.

At Norlha we are not about making a few wealthy people wealthier. But rather it's about creating a product that becomes a sort of employment and that the creator takes pride in, and the final owner can cherish and pass down over generations.

And in order to insure that all our values are met, it is crucial that we are in control of the entire chain. So how is Norlha different from other companies that work with yak wool?Many people have the misconception that yak wool is rare. It is actually on the contrary. There are so many yaks on the Tibetan Plateau that overgrazing is starting to become an environmental hazard.

But what will nomads do if they don’t herd animals? Many of them are forced to moving to towns take on construction jobs,which are physically hard and are unreliable and only seasonal.

And what about buying yak wool from nomads?By buying yak wool from nomads, you really can’t change a nomad’s life. And here is why. An average yak has half a kilo of wool. Most of the time, even that is a loss to the plateau, because the yaks shed their hair. They shed their wool and hair during the summer month. So if you don't pull it out, you lose it out to the plateau.

The market value of a kilo of yak wool is two US dollars. So in a herd of about 100 yaks, a family of four can make only about 100 to 200 US dollars annually. So this is mere pocket money, it doesn’t make a difference to the nomad.

So what does? It's actually by retaining the added value of the raw material in the area itself. And by making it turning into a source of employment is what makes a difference to the people.

So at Norlha, by having a workshop that employs local people, our impact has been two-fold. On the one hand, we are able to combat the environmental hazard of overgrazing. And on the other hand, socially, we allow husbands to remain with wives, mothers to remain with children, and for elders to be surrounded by family in their hometowns.

So how is Norlha making a difference to the final consumer? Let's think back to our wardrobes, and our houses and our endless possessions of goods and things. How many of these things are bought solely for our want for more things? How many of these things are just helping make a few wealthy people wealthier? And how many of these things are encouraging dire working conditions in other countries, and maybe even child labor?

Now, how many of these things just end up contributing to the growing garbage pile of today’s world? Now some of you might argue that this is what we can afford, and here I’d like to bring the common saying that sometimes less is more. Why not buy one thing that you can cherish, and passed on to generations, and that will help you to have a better conscious, rather than buying 10 or 20 things that just end up contributing to the garbage in today’s world?

The market is in the hands of the consumer. So the day that we as consumers start asking these questions, then the market will start supplying more piles of positive impact goods, and the world will be a better place.

Norlha is about weaving together all walks of life into a fabric of society that is bound by trust and responsibility.


「世界屋脊上的作坊」20150418·台湾
益西德成是一席第282位讲者
微信号:yixiclub
网址:yixi.tv
微博:@一席YiXi
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