When the pandemic happened, we, just like all other tourism-centered companies, suddenly found ourselves with no tours and no revenue. At first, we kept hoping that it’s going to end in a few months, but after a while we realized coronavirus isn’t going away any time soon. What made it worse was that our nomadic partners, who are the heart and core of this business, kept calling us and asking if we were going to visit them soon. Looking for ways to keep our partnership alive with the nomads and bring in a bit of revenue for us both, the idea for Nomad Market slowly started to take shape in our minds.
In Nomad Market, we decided to take the middlemen out of the equation and directly connect the nomads to their customers from all over Iran and around the world. Usually, the nomads are left with no choice but to sell their organic produce to middlemen by a very low price. This kind of trade does not do the nomads justice and leaves them wanting to multiply their herds in order to make enough money to continue their lives, which in turn is a threat to their otherwise sustainable lifestyle.
The nomads produce a variety of dairy products, ghee, and oils, and they also forage for amazing herbs in their surrounding mountains and pastures. The nomadic products are the kind of organic that you won’t be able to find anywhere else: not only are the sheep and goats raised without any hormonal feed, but also they get to roam freely in the mountains and feast on the abundant seasonal wild herbs and flowers that the pastures generously provide. The milk from these animals is obviously more nutritious than the milk that you can buy even at a farmer’s market.
Another type of nomadic products that are not dairy and can be ordered and shipped overseas, are nomad-made Persian rugs. Each year, after their spring transhumance, when they get settled in their summer pastures, they cut the sheep’s wool & the goats’ hair. Then they clean and make them dry under the sun and weave yarns into threads. The threads are later used for various nomadic handicrafts such as jajim, shirdang, choogha, nomadic bags, carpets and rugs.
In the summer that has passed, we have driven to the mountains a handful of times in very small groups (after taking a covid19 test), and we have hiked to the nomads and bought their produce and brought them back to the city. By doing this, we have eased the burden on the nomads.
What’s more, is that every customer that buys a nomadic product from our shop, gets to know which family they are buying from and what is the family’s story. In our most recent trip to the nomads, we showed them pictures and texts from our website, and knowing we are telling their family’s legacy and history with every purchase, brought our nomad partners an incredible sense of joy and pride, which is our end-goal in either Nomad Market, or Nomad Tours.
Although we are counting the days until we can have our travelers back and get to breathe easier again (pun intended), we are happy that this pandemic forced us to broaden our endeavors and give birth to Nomad Market, which will be a permanent part of our partnership with the nomads, even when tourism gets back to normal again.