In Conversation with Deskit Angmo, Entrepreneur

By Deachen Spaldon Leh, Jun 20, 2023
Leh :

Q. Brief us about yourself and your venture?

I am from Liktsey village and pursued my graduation from Delhi University. Further, I did my MBA from Punjab Technical University and did a 6months hotel management course. Later, I once appeared for an interview for a job but I got rejected. It seems something else is written for me. My father works in a Pashmina plant and he always use to talk to me about Pashmina-related work. Also, I use to see my grandma weaving carpets at home and that’s how the idea of venturing into the Pashmina business started.

I started ‘Changra Ladakh’ in October 2020, ‘Chang’ in the native language means eastern Ladakh wherein the nomads of Ladakh reside, and ‘Ra’ means a goat. As a startup, I started participating in the Enchanting Ladakh event which takes place at Delhi Haat where I learned about sales and marketing. During the second edition of Enchanting Ladakh, I set up my store in Chamba camp, Thiksey. In October 2022, we collaborated with a clothing brand based in London called Cording, where we started exporting outside India. 

Q. Ladakh’s Pashmina as we all know got certified with GI Tag. How do you think this tag is going to benefit the Pashmina growers as well as business owners like you?

In Ladakh, we see that 70% of the Pashmina market is dominated by Kashmiris. For a layman like us, we couldn't differentiate the quality of Pashmina earlier. Pashmina products of Ladakh always had a raw finish, unlike Kashmiris which are finer. This was one of our biggest disadvantages as it was a misconception among people that pashmina is supposed to be finer and smoother in quality. In addition to that, we couldn't prove the worth of our quality as there was no place for lab tests as well. After getting GI Tag, although there’s no SOP as of now today we get our Pashmina tested at labs in the Sheep husbandry department Leh. The quality of Ladakhi Pashmina comes out to be around 12 microns, we get these reports along and then sell our products. This has been benefiting us on a large scale because now we can easily differentiate between original and fake ones, while also justifying how our products are more expensive. 

Q. With changing times, we have been witnessing a lot of nomads migrating to city life. Do you think that’ll be a challenge for people involved in pashmina works in the next few decades?

Yes, that’s a huge challenge and we will see the impact of it in coming years. If actions are not taken, we’ll have a huge shortage of raw materials. This year around 7 families migrated to Leh and left the nomadic lifestyle. They talk about the hard lifestyle there- as the younger generations, today are more inclined towards city life and don’t follow their parents as was happening before. In addition to that, they are also facing losses due to wildlife attacks on their livestock. 

In this regard, we had a meeting with LG, where discussions were held about the challenges faced by nomads. A provision for funds to be provided was decided, and a policy to include shepherd work as a government job was discussed. So that not only nomads, but job seekers from such areas can work and earn their living without migrating. 

Q. How has your journey been so far? What are the challenges you have faced?

As for us, we can’t directly buy raw materials from them. Combing starts in July in Kharnak, and this gets transferred to the Pashmina plant. We have to place our demands before that, only then we can buy the raw materials. After that, we approach the self-help group of Phyang village called Royal Chakra- whose members are experts at weaving and knitting. We supply them with the raw materials, and they send us the final products. 

Our theme is mainly to keep the products as natural as it is without dying with only 3 main colors- white, beige, and grey. 

Marketing and sales was the biggest challenge for me on which I gained knowledge gradually. I also got lucky in getting an opportunity at Chamba camp where most of my products got sold out. In this regard, I’m very grateful to H.E Thiksay Rinpoche and Department of Industries & Commerce Leh without whom this journey wouldn't have been this successful. 

Message to the readers

I think instead of being part of the rat race, we have to grab every opportunity that comes our way. There are a lot of opportunities in Ladakh- be it in textiles, tourism, etc. To work on the raw materials existing in the region itself and to be able to take that at the international level will be a huge accomplishment in one’s life. Especially if one is from the Changthang region- they will have a lot of benefits because they can easily get the raw material for any textile business. So instead of completely abandoning the lifestyle, they can adapt to it and think of ideas to get benefitted from the raw materials available.