Kyrgyz Felt - Aizada Imports
Paula Halverson, owner of Aizada Imports
Paula's first trip to Kyrgyzstan
Aizada Imports started in London England, where Paula had a small shop selling home decor. Paula met a group of artisans from Kyrgyzstan at an International Trade Exhibition in London. The Ambassador from Kyrgyzstan at that time, Roza Otunbaeva, had organized an exhibition of handicrafts from her country. She was hoping to find trades people who would help the women in Kyrgyzstan market their crafts in the West. When Paula saw the exquisite crafts displayed outside a colorful yurt, she was captivated. The intrigue began and 2 months later she was on a flight to Bishkek. Her first trip to Kyrgyzstan was organized by Shepherd's Way Trekking, a wonderful, family run horse trekking company in Barskoon on the edge of the Tien Shan Mountains. After a week in the back country on horseback, she took off cross country with her guide and translator Aizada Sopueva in search of the women who were still were making traditional felted shyrdaks in the shepherding communities in the mountains. Our business started there and since then Paula has been back to Kyrgyzstan almost every year. She and Aizada have become close friends and business partners. Aizada runs the business from Kyrgyzstan.
Aizada Sopueva, Kyrgyz Manager of Aizada Imports
Our business is named after Aizada. She comes from the village of Barskoon, a bustling picturesque village at the base of the Tien Shan Range, not far from the shores of Kyrgyzstan's huge inland Lake Issyk Kul. Aizada was raised by a family that is submersed in Kyrgyz tradition and yet mindful of the future for their children, their culture and their country. Her Aunt and Uncles own Shepherd's Way Trekking. She has a University degree, as do her brothers and sisters. Most of the family are connected to the tourism industry and work ambitiously at protecting their environment, their cultural history and language..........even though all of them speak at least 2 other languages besides Kyrgyz. She has been assisting Paula for over 8 years now at researching, buying and supporting Kyrgyz women who do felt making as a craft. She and her friend Meerim, have recently opened their own small production workshop at Meerim's parent's farm outside of Bishkek. Aizada has made 2 business trips to the United States where she has had the opportunity to promote the handicrafts and culture of Kyrgyzstan. She has guided trips for fiber artists and continues to make herself available for that.......in case any of you are interested.