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Ten Years of Freedom at The Loyal Workshop

After many years of dreaming and scheming, Paul and Sarah launched their little family into the craziness of Kolkata and dreamt of a new business that could bring hope to women trapped in the sex-trade. With limited experience in business and zero ability to make stuff themselves, they were set up to require a miracle. A miracle was what they got.

In January 2012, they met Harry and Mandy who were backpacking through India. Harry had inherited some leather working tools and taught himself leather work while studying architecture at university. They generously offered Harry’s leather satchel design in the hope that women could stitch their way to freedom.

The two couples joined forces. Harry would oversee the production process, product design, and the training of the first two groups of women. Mandy, a trained primary school teacher, would go on to set-up the literacy and numeracy training programme which the artisans would partake in. 


A group of five women courageously trust the strange foreigners offering them a job and join the workshop as the first group of artisans. 

Later that year, another six women make the brave move to leave the sex trade and come to work at The Loyal Workshop.


Loyal celebrates its first birthday as a business.

We also sign the papers on our own building! The Loyal Workshop is now located right in the heart of the Bow Bazar red-light area. 


Our third group of artisans join the Loyal family - seven more women!


Three Loyal artisans and our co-founder Sarah are featured in 200 Women - an incredible book highlighting 200 amazing women and their stories from around the world.


We photograph an iconic lifestyle campaign in New Zealand's Karangahape Gorge. The timeless nature of our products mean these shots still hold their own to this day.



We head up to Darjeeling for our annual Christmas picnic. Many of the Loyal staff see the grandeur of a mountain and experience "proper" cold for the first time. 


Covid disrupts everything, everywhere. We do our best to help our community by organising a 5-kilometre walk / jog / run-athon. Many of you participate and collectively we raise over NZ $30,000! This money is used to bring much needed long-term Covid relief to our neighbourhood.


The Loyal staff do an incredible job managing the workshop over Covid while foreign leadership is absent. This emboldens everyone with the courage needed to begin the process of succeeding the business over to local leadership and governance. 


We celebrate eight years in business! Joel dances in a sari at the 8th Birthday Party.


Our favourite social media influencer Kate Hall, aka Ethically Kate, visits our workshop. She meets Raima - the woman who made her bag eight years previously!



Nisha, a Loyal artisan from the third intake, is the first lady from The Loyal Workshop to successfully repatriate back to her homeland of Nepal.

We mark ten years of freedom in true Loyal fashion - week-long celebrations, free-flowing emotions, good-good food, and time spent altogether soaking up the significance of this milestone.

A special shoutout to the other foreigners who have been involved with us over the years - Kay, Joel and Lizzie, Jake and Meg, Nathan and Rosey, Andy and Lou, Erika, Matt, Andriano and Russell. We couldn't have made it this far without you.