KASMIRI Founder Anna Kiousis began her career as an International Aid Consultant at the age of 22 when she was sent on her first assignment to Papua New Guinea. What followed was a love for helping people and a career spanning many years working in some of the world’s most disadvantaged and war-torn countries. KASMIRI is a distillation of her life’s work. This is her story.
Kasmiri is a distillation of my life’s work. This was not apparent when at 22 years old, I travelled to Papua New Guinea to work at a remote eye camp in the highlands and was overwhelmed by the critical need to help people less fortunate. It was there I found my purpose and pursued my love for International Development work for several decades working in countries including Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal to establish women’s enterprises, health and education programs and emergency relief in war-torn countries.
I’m often asked how I’ve made the transition from International Development work into founding a cashmere luxury brand. The career change seems, at first, like polar opposites. For me, the transition has been quite a seamless step in my life’s journey. I realised I could put my hard won skills honed in managing women’s enterprises in the developing world to building an ethical luxury cashmere brand which benefits the weavers, mainly women, at the centre.
KASMIRI combines two of my passions. A love for cashmere and beauty and an instrinsic desire to continue to make the world better.
I first fell in love with cashmere when working in Nepal in 1999. To relax at the end of the day, I would walk through the backstreets of Kathmandu looking at the stores filled with beautifully handwoven cashmere products and learn about the rich textile history of Nepal dating back to the 12th century. I bought my first cashmere travel wrap which I still love to wear. It’s a sentimental piece which holds memories of all my travels and adventures I’ve had wearing it.
Sadly, much of cashmere is mass produced in highly mechanised countries yet the most beautifully woven cashmere which will stand the test of time is made in the Himalayas using traditional hand-looms and techniques passed down through the generations.
Choosing to exclusively make our cashmere collection in the Himalayas means that KASMIRI brings the finest handcrafted cashmere into the hands of those who desire quality, authenticity and a piece which has its own unique story and design.
Crafting our cashmere collection in the Himalayas actively preserves the authentic art of weaving practised by our artisans and empowers our women weavers to support their families and communities. Every piece gives the wearer a stylish edge that transcends trends and are made to wear throughout all your life’s adventures. They are made for longevity so that every piece will hold memories for the wearer.
To continue to pursue a world where there is equality for people, especially women and to celebrate and preserve traditional art, design and beauty is deeply important to me. I’ve always believed things made by hand carry an emotional and spiritual energy. My joy is to celebrate the skills of our artisan weavers and to share the stories of how each piece is made and by doing so connect our artisans to the wearer, our customers.