In the Tibetan language, our company name is གཡང་དཀར་མ ( pronounced “yang khar ma” ). “yang” means fortune or wealth, which refers to the yaks and other livestock of a nomad or a farmer; “khar” means white or pure, which in this case describes the rare breed of white yaks that resides in Bairi; and “ma” means a female or mother figure.
Why Yak Milk?
Yaks and Tibetan people have been living together in harmony for thousands of years. One could easily argue that neither can live without each other: yaks are high altitude bovine that mainly live in Tibet. They have three times higher red blood cell counts than cows, which help them endure the harsh living environment of the Tibetan Plateau. But without the love and care of Tibetan people, they might struggle to sustain in large numbers; Tibetan people rely heavily on yaks for food, fuel, clothing, and transportation. Yak milk has higher fat and vitamin contents than other milk. For centuries, Tibetan people also use yak milk for treatments of cracked skin, dry hair, sunburn, and etc. In fact, so important yaks are to Tibetan people that they are named individually based on their personalities and temperaments. Meet སྙིང་རྗེ ( pronounced “nyingjé” ) or compassion, one of the sweetest yaks!
Yakma Body Care founder Danma Jyid was born and raised in Bairi Tibetan Autonomous County. Yakma was built with the mission of empowering through beautifully handcrafted high quality body care products that we all have very intimate relationships with on a daily basis, using yak milk, just like how seh used it to wash hair or moisturize skin growing up, as the base ingredient.
In Tibetan culture, while gender roles may not be as rigid as those in other parts of Asia, there are still deeply held ideas regarding the spheres of activity appropriate for men and women. Traditionally, women in rural villages rarely have opportunities to work outside of the home. They are often responsible for most household labor and chores, while men are responsible for taking care of the business side of things. Growing up, the only future many young Tibetan women could see for themselves is in bearing children, herding livestock, fetching water and collecting wood for fuel.
Yakma gives rural Tibetan women the opportunity to foster and utilize their talents and creativity through the process of handcrafting soaps. More importantly, it will enable them to become financially independent, give them business skills and demonstrate their value to their communities. Ultimately, Yakma plans to dedicate a portion of business revenue on community development projects such as running health and wellbeing seminars, employment training programs and Tibetan culture preservation projects.
Yakma is located in Dechen Village, which is located in Zhua Xi Xiu Long Township in the southwest of Bairi Tibetan Autonomous County, Gansu Province, home to over 200 nomadic families and 15,000 white yaks. Dechen village is sixty-three kilometers from Bairi county seat; it is a nomad area where agriculture cannot be practiced because of the harsh climate. The altitude of Zhua Xi Xiu Long Township is between 2800 and 3400 meters above sea level. Zhua Xi Xiu Long Township’s acreage is 459.2 Kilometers and there are five villages containing 1,087 households and approximately 4,588 people. The ethnic composition of the township includes Tibetans, Han, Monguor, Hui, and Mongols of which Tibetans comprise 61.6% and other ethnic groups in total comprises 38.4%. Most villagers in Dechen practice pastoralism. The grassland is divided on a per-person basis. Each person owns sixty-five mu of grassland, and families herd yaks, sheep, and goats.
Majority of Dechen residents earn money is from livestock. Each family owns fifty to one hundred sheep and fewer than seventy yaks. Villagers produce butter and cheese and sell meat for disposable income. Another money-making route people take is to go out of the village to find work. Men and women travel to Chinese cities for physical labor at construction sites or large commercial farms. Those who are unable to find construction work opportunities, dig caterpillar fungus, a kind of rare medical plant. People usually go to higher altitude areas far from the village from beginning of May and end of June.