SHOKAY is Tibetan for yak down. It’s also our name. SHOKAY is a socially responsible textiles brand, pioneering the development of premium products from yak down sourced from thousands of herders across the Tibetan region of Qinghai province in China. We create beautifully soft knitwear, accessories, and yarn for conscious consumers worldwide.
The nomadic Tibetan herders in China’s far western province of Qinghai rely on income from the yaks they raise. By creating a market for premium yak down, SHOKAY helps those families to increase their annual incomes by up to 30 percent. SHOKAY reinvests money back into our partner communities, including our hand-spinning cooperative in Hei Ma He and our hand-knitting cooperative on Chongming Island.
HAND-COMBED YAK DOWN
Yak down rivals the softness of cashmere, alpaca, and qiviut, allowing us to make premium yarns and soft garments. Despite their size, yaks can only produce 100g of down each year and their herders, primarily women, hand comb this exquisite fiber from the yaks’ necks and shoulders. This process does not hurt the yak and provides us with the raw materials for our creations.
An exclusive selection or SHOKAY’s yarns are hand spun by our Women’s Hand-Spinning Cooperative in Hei Ma He. To help increase productivity and the range of yarns produced, we engaged fiber expert Cate Carter to train local women to hand spin yarns on double treadle spinning wheels rather than the drop spindles they have commonly used. Because yak fiber is very short and thus hard to spin on a wheel, the cooperative primarily spins wool.
Many of SHOKAY’s accessories are created at our hand-knitting cooperative on Chongming Island. The island is largely agricultural, and most of its working population lives in nearby Shanghai where there are more job opportunities. SHOKAY’s cooperative on Chongming Island gives women there the opportunity to earn extra income with flexible work hours while still attending to their households.