In 1993, while in her second year of college, Kate Fisher’s wanderlust adventure-loving ways started beckoning her to explore the world that existed outside of textbooks and classrooms. She bought a one-way plane ticket to Kathmandu and arrived in November of 1993 at age 21, the starting point of an eight month long adventure though Nepal and India. In her first week in Kathmandu, Kate bought an assortment of textiles and clothing and sent her purchases to friends in America to sell at markets and Grateful Dead shows. In these simple beginnings, partnerships and connections in Nepal were formed and the seeds of Synergy were born. As she traveled onto India from Nepal she would form early connections and business connections there, which collectively helped shape the start of Synergy. Four years after starting Synergy Kate would meet her soon to be husband Henry Schwab, who worked for GreenPeace and the Waterwheel Foundation. After the birth of their first child, the two became not only partners in life but also partners in business, fusing their strengths together and growing Synergy together.
In the first month of Kate’s travels she learned some life long valuable lessons while trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal that would come to influence some core philosophies of Synergy. Two days into her Himalayan trek along part of the Annapurna Circuit, Kate stayed in a local teahouse where she met a young woman who would host and cook for Western trekkers in her family’s home. They both were wearing braids and were the same age and chatted about their similarities. Kate was quick to realize that while she had romanticized the simplicity of life in a small village, she had the freedom to come and go from Nepal and to choose her path in life. The young woman she had met, like most women living in villages in Nepal, had little choice and freedom in their lives. Most young women in villages in Nepal have a limited education, followed by an arranged marriage, and may get to visit Kathmandu once in their lives. Kate could see what a gift it was to have the freedom in her own life, “I had the ability to come and go and to create and choose whatever life my heart felt called to live.”
This core lesson helped shape Synergy’s commitment to wanting to help create opportunities and empowerment for everyone in the Synergy supply chain, has been central to Synergy’s mission. We are committed to using the highest quality organic materials, which protects the farmers who grow the organic cotton, the people who knit and create the fabrics, everyone who works on cutting and sewing and packing our clothing, all of whom are paid fair living wages and work in healthy work environments. Every hand that goes into creating our clothing is connected, along with each person who makes the choice to purchase and wear our clothing, in essence connecting ourselves to a global economy and community. Synergy has gone onto helping empower people in Nepal , particularly women and children by giving back to non profit groups in Nepal focused on providing financial empowerment to women and education for children to help build a healthy future for those people and generations to come.
As a family run business in Santa Cruz, California Kate and Henry are directly connected to all of the moving parts that make up the business, and are connected to Synergy’s family of employees both within the United States and overseas. Together they have been able to fuse their passion for clothing design and the care of our planet, by creating a sustainable business model that is cared for with great love and dedication. Thank you for being a part of our Synergy story.
Kate Fisher, Henry Schwab, and their children visiting our Nepal factory 2 weeks before the 2015 earthquake