Fair Trade Federation
Lost Horizons was founded on Fair trade principles over 30 years ago before there was a Fair Trade Federation in North America or Nepal. Katherine, Lost Horizons' owner, began the company using agreements with the women’s knitting cooperative that she thought to be the best and fairest business practices.
The philosophy of Lost Horizons has always been to help the artisans we work with to develop new skill sets to improve their lives and provide for their families. This work empowers women by providing artisan level training in knitting and steady employment.
It should be noted that our goal at Lost Horizons is not to exploit this cottage industry or these women, but to provide new skills and meaningful work. The associations with which we work pay the highest wages for knitting in Nepal. One of the associations has a retirement fund, and both assist in emergency medical and educational needs for the knitters and their families. Approximately 35% of the wholesale price of each item goes to the knitting associations. Nepal is a traditional society. Women mainly stay home to look after their children and households. The knitting they do for Lost Horizons allows them to stay at home while still earning additional income for their families.
Wages are paid on a per item basis decided by the knitters. Each year the women come together to review the new designs and price the many items they knit for Lost Horizons. The master knitters who oversee the workshops are paid on salary, which is also negotiated each year
Lost Horizons is very committed to the knitters they have been in partnership with for more than 30 years. From the very beginning Lost Horizons was ordering goods far in advance that were yet unsold, in order to keep the women knitting and providing income for their families.
The company has also provided 50% of the cost of goods up front to the knitting cooperative in order to buy the raw materials for knitwear orders. This was done in order to provide stable and continuous work for the knitters when otherwise there would have been lag time between ordering. To this day we still strive to keep the women busy 12 months out of the year.
We are proud to be members of the Fair Trade Federation and are excited that Fair Trade principles are helping people make buying decisions based on a company’s treatment and payment of their workers.
Lost Horizons - Response to the 2015 Earthquakes in Nepal
After Nepal’s devastating earthquakes in April and May 2015 we were able to financially assist with building temporary housing for many of our knitters. Over 60 knitter's homes were destroyed and many others damaged.
We are very grateful for the generous support of friends and customers who joined in our efforts to help as best we could after this crisis.
Most of the the funds we sent to Nepal went to the building of interim shelters for the knitters who lost their homes. Our team in Nepal decided the first priority in the re-building process was adequate shelter for those without homes to re-locate to, so that they and their health and remaining possessions would be protected from the elements as the summer monsoon rains rolled in.
Most of the funding went to plastic, corrugated metal, plywood and the construction of these simple yet adequate shelters. Our main concern was for the women and their families who had the least amount of resources, either financial or familial, & no place to live. They were literally on the street amidst the rubble. These interim houses sheltered them through the rainy season and gave them a place to start again, a place to base their families, their work, and to begin the clean-up and re-building of their homes.
Of course help is still needed. Our knitters want steady work above all other assistance so that is where our energies are focused. We’re doing our best to keep over 800 knitters busy with skilled work that provides a fair wage, a flexible work day, and autonomy.
That’s how we and our customers are helping!