Pure Cashmere From Afghanistan
Welcome to the back room of our hand-spinning and hand-knitting operation in Kabul. The online shop front is calm and modern, everything that you expect from an international retailer. But here things are altogether different. Full of activity, this is where you can see more of who we are and learn about how we work. And this is where we explain the values that are woven into everything we produce and sell.
We look forward to welcoming you behind the scenes. We want you to sense the immense pride we take in the quality of our skilled craftsmanship, and to learn about our approach to running a business in one of the most exciting - and occasionally most challenging - countries in the world.
Who we are
Qaria - a certified Social Enterprise - was founded in 2014 with one simple objective: to build a commercially viable business bringing beautiful hand crafted cashmere products from Afghanistan to a global market. Being a social enterprise does not take away from our commercial objectives, but it does reflect the strong social mission that runs through our business, and determines how we do business.
Afghanistan is the world's third largest producer of cashmere. But until recently, almost all of this valuable fibre was exported to western markets in its raw form. Thanks to our business partners - Cashmere Fibres International and Sahib Zaman - this has now changed. For the first time, Qaria is able to hand-spin this luxurious fibre to produce yarns, and hand-knit those yarns to make garments - in Afghanistan.
At all times we aim to act as a responsible corporate citizen and respect the traditions and the values of our host country. Qaria is a commercial enterprise with a strong, positive social impact, under-pinned by four core values:
1. We are committed to achieving the highest standards of quality in everything we make and do.
2. We provide training to upgrade skills, we pay fair wages, and we provide decent working conditions for all of our people.
3. We care about animal welfare and we are working towards full product trace-ability from goat to garment.
4. We aim to contribute to the sustainable development of the cashmere sector in Afghanistan.
The feel-good Afghan yarn
Unfortunately, Afghanistan features far too often in media headlines for the wrong reasons. But the true story of this country is one of a proud and determined people, stunning natural beauty, strong traditions, and a rich cultural heritage.
Years of conflict and hardship have taken their toll, but have also produced men and women with extraordinary resilience in the face of adversity. Today the vast majority of Afghans simply want to live in peace so that they can provide for their families and see their children grow up and enjoy a better life.
But very few Afghan men, and even fewer women, have jobs. Poverty is widespread. In the countryside, most people still rely on small-scale subsistence farming to survive. In the cities, day labouring is a common - but unreliable - source of income.
Women rarely work outside of their homes and some families cannot afford to send their children to school.
In Dusht-e Barche, a suburb of western Kabul, some women earn a living from home - spinning wool for carpet making. Qaria is now building a business by enhancing these skills, teaching the techniques necessary to spin cashmere yarn, and in the process creating real jobs and real incomes.
Follow the Qaria story
Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/qariacashmere) and read our story in the blog posts below to discover why we talk about Qaria as "the feel-good Afghan yarn".