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Kaygee Cats Story

Kaygee Cats were conceived by artist Mary Gates Dewey after being a ceramic artist for 40 years, and specifically making ceramic cats for 20 of those years. They grew out of a desire to do something different, but mostly were inspired by Mary's longtime feline companion, Kaygee.

Mary's hope was to design a series of soft cats that could be made elsewhere. While she worked on the designs and prototypes, she also searched for an appropriate place to have them made. After one disappointing trip to Indonesia, Mary contacted an acquaintance in Nepal, a woman she had met ten years earlier while trekking and exploring Kathmandu.

Sulo Shrestha-Shah is a Nepali woman educated in Germany, an entrepreneur and civic leader in Kathmandu. Mary's letter to Sulo was serendipitous, as Sulo's latest project was to start a company dedicated to the development of cottage industries in Nepal. Her ideal is an industry that will employ the hard working Nepalese at decent wages, offer them a safe workplace where child labor is not used, provide for their medical care, and educate their children.

One such company, Formation Carpets, has been in operation for several years under Sulo's guidance and employs over 200 weavers. A nursery has been added to the grounds of the factory so that the children of the weavers could be cared for. Sulo has taken on the problem of child labor to a much larger degree as well, forming a foundation called the Rugmark Foundation to work toward eliminating child labor from all of Asia. Sulo was given the "Award of Distinction" from the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, USA for her business ethics and her efforts.

After corresponding for about a year, Mary returned to Nepal with fabric, patterns, and her prototypes, to spend 6 weeks with Sulo and her family and all the women who would be sewing the cats. Mary was delighted with the dedication and diligence of these women, even after long days of using crude scissors causing blisters, and non-electric sewing machines. The result, we hope, will make you smile as big as the smiles on the beautiful children of Nepal.

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