It’s important to us that we give our customers the opportunity to learn about the human side of TREQA – the people and processes involved in helping to bring our vision to life and provide you with the high quality, high performance active wear that you enjoy every day.
Yvan and I recently made our third trip to Nepal with the goal of coordinating production with our existing partners who make our jackets and pants, and finding additional family run manufacturing partners in Nepal to help us expand TREQA’s product line while we continue to give back to the people and place we love.
The journey to Kathmandu isn’t for the faint of heart, but we are getting quite used to it and after nearly 21 hours of travelling and going through customs and security we were finally back in our second favourite place in the world – the first being at home with our families.
Although it was a business trip, it’s hard to call it “work”, because, as always, we had a blast spending time with our friends and manufacturing partners, making new friends, and enjoying the local food and drink.
We’re including some of the details of our trip – as best we can remember them 😉 – and hope you will find this inside look at TREQA and Nepal both interesting and enlightening.
GOALS FOR THE TRIP
This was a business trip first, and we had a lot to accomplish in a fairly short period of time, so we made sure to set some specific goals for the trip:
1. Have fun and enjoy the local food & drinks!
Okay, yes, I said this was a business trip, but this is just who we are. As I said, we love Nepal and the Nepali people and making sure we prioritize fun keeps us engaged in this venture and motivated to continue to put in the long hours and hard work.
2. Connect with Current Partners
We wanted to make sure we set aside enough time to re-connect with our current manufacturing partners who create our winter jackets and pants as well as our rain gear, catch up with their families, talk about new products, and confirm our orders for the upcoming season.
3. Find Additional Manufacturing Partners in Nepal.
We work with small, family run manufacturers and match their specific capabilities to our apparel, which means that in addition to our current partners we are always on the lookout for additional manufacturers who can help us keep up with demand and expand our line of spring, fall and winter jackets and pants, and help us design and produce new products like our upcoming line of outdoor gear including sleeping bags, backpacks, and tents.
CATCHING UP WITH OUR PARTNERS
They are manufacturers and it is a business relationship first, but to us our manufacturing partners feel like extended family and we make a point of setting enough time aside to sit down and catch up over a plate of food and a few drinks whenever possible.
After checking in at the hotel and dropping off our bags we headed up the street to the Gakarna House Restuarant to meet Ramesh, who produces our popular (and very warm) Pumori insulated men’s and women’s winter jackets, as well as our Dingboche men’s and women’s rainwear.
After lunch we selected fabrics and placed our orders.
Next we caught up (over food of course) with our good friend and TREQA’s local shipper, Rajendra. He is responsible for getting finished TREQA apparel from our manufacturing partners in Nepal to our distribution warehouse in Toronto, Canada. We count on Rajendra to keep us up to speed on the changes and challenges of operating a business in Nepal and working with a company like ours.
Our next stop was to meet with one of TREQA’s first manufacturing partners and our good friend, Deepak A (pictured in the photo at the top of this post with his wife and mother – she’s the real boss).
Deepak is also helping us put our designs for TREQA’s new 500 GSM men’s and women’s parkas (warm enough for the Arctic) and our insulated winter sleeping bags into production. Since we often don’t use a tent when paddling or camping we wanted to create a sleeping bag made with waterproof, breathable fabric so you don’t need to spend time drying out your bag each day from morning dew or ground moisture in the event you slide off your mat. We also think it’s a really great looking bag. This exciting new product will be known as “The Furnace”.
And finally, we caught up with another of TREQA first manufacturing partners, Deepak P, who produces our Namche line of men’s and women’s snow jackets. He is also working with us on developing a new reversible Polar Fleece sweater for men, women, and kids.
Deepak took us to his favourite restaurant and shared the news of his new house and how he and his family were settling in.
WELCOMING NEW PARTNERS
After re-connecting with our current manufacturing partners, spending time with their families, and confirming our orders for the upcoming season it was time to find additional manufacturing partners.
In Kathmandu we met Bala and Udaya, who live in a small village called Dulsa, located in the mountains of the Himalyas. They took us on a tour of their factory in Thamal, an area just outside of Kathmandu, and we spent a lot of time discussing their processes and values to make sure it was a good fit.
Bala and Udaya grew up in a Himalayan village of 3000 people, with one school and two languages – a different one at each end of the village! Limited local opportunities eventually led them to leave their village and pursue an education in Kathmandu, where they studied and learned English while working in manufacturing.
Their education and experience has allowed them, along with two other partners, to start their own manufacturing business. Bala and Udaya worked closely with us while we refined the design and choose the optimal insulation and fabric for our new line of 150 GSM, lightweight fall jackets.
We are delighted to add such wonderful, thoughtful people to the TREQA family of manufacturing partners. Soon our customers will be enjoying the crisp, cool fall weather in Bala and Udaya’s incredibly warm and unbelievably lightweight jackets.
Now that we had a manufacturer lined up for our new fall jacket, we needed to find someone capable of producing our new TREQA backpacks.
When we go camping and fishing we rely on our backpacks to hold our gear and keep it dry. So we wanted to create a line of affordable, yet highly functional and reliable backpacks for all occasions – from a small 25 litre daypack good for hiking and other day-long outings, to 40 / 50 litre packs meant to hold enough gear for a few days of trekking or camping, to a big 90 litre backpack that will hold enough gear and apparel to go backpacking for a month.
We designed our backpacks with both comfort and functionality in mind, so they feature padded straps, a solid and padded back, and are water-resistant with a built in waterproof cover for consistent or heavy rain.
Thankfully, one of our current manufacturers introduced us to Buddhi and his family. After enjoying tea and cookies with Buddhi, his wife and two kids, we toured their factory (which doubles as the family home), chose colours and styles and put together a deal.
Soon TREQA customers will be enjoying Buddhi’s handmade backpacks when they pack up and hit the trails, whether it’s for a day or a month!
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES…
Although we accomplished a lot this trip, we ended up biting off a little more than we could chew and ran out of time to find a tent manufacturer and a local photographer. I guess we’ll just have to start planning our next trip to Nepal. I love this business.
– Patrick Grillo, TREQA Co-founder