Our Artisans and Partners
We think it’s important to know what you are buying and where it’s coming from. We endeavour to provide you with information about the individual artisan and his or her community that you support with your product purchase.
THE ANDES FASHION
Our newest addition, the Andes Collection is a fun, vibrant collection of ethical and eco-chic contemporary handicrafts sourced from our partner in Ecuador, The Andes Fashion. The Andes Fashion works under the rules of Fair Trade with over 200 families of artisans located all over Ecuador. Founder and fashion designer Mirta Evi launched the eco-chic, fair trade and ethical brand to help raise funds for social and environmental issues in Ecuador, working in partnership with international NGOs, the Ecuadorian Government and the United Nations Development Program.
The Andes Fashion artisans specialise in various areas of craftsmanship to ensure the highest quality product, and offering ongoing opportunities for entrepreneurship, training and leadership for artisan producers and their families. Their collections have featured in many high profile events across the globe including Miami Fashion Week 2012 and Climate Week in London giving these talented artisans fantastic opportunities to improve their livelihoods and living conditions through high profile exposure to the global market.
The Andes Fashion donates 10% of its profits to scholarships for the underprivileged and 15% of its profits to Yasuní-ITT (an Ecuadorian Government conservation program in the Yasuní National Park with the aim of reducing 400 million tonnes CO2 into the atmosphere.
The Cusco Collection holds a special place close to our hearts. All the products from our Cusco Collection are ethically sourced from our partner Awana Wasinchis, a Cusco-based cooperative operating under fair trade principles. Awana Wasinchis is a family-run cooperative that aims to provide sustainable incomes to artisans from their home village and surrounding communities. All artisans are paid fair wages at 80 percent of the wholesale price of the item.
The artisans work directly with the Mother-Son team at Awana Wasinchis to provide high quality, handmade eco products made with natural fibres and materials. The products are made using traditional weaving techniques that are under threat of disappearing, due to the large-scale industrialisation of textile products made to satisfy the tourist market in Peru. All products are produced by hand and take on average one month to produce. For this reason, we do not sell our items in bulk and we may occasionally have out-of-stock items. If you see a product that you love, please register to be informed next time it is in stock, otherwise contact us and we can have the product custom made for you.
CENTRO DE TEXTILOS TRADICIONALES DEL CUSCO
The Chinchero Collection is a unique line of textile products ethically sourced from the Centro de Textilos Tradicionales del Cusco, based in the small indigenous village of Chinchero, one hour from Cusco. The Centre works in nine different communities and provides sustainable incomes for approximately 350 adult artisans.
The centre is a not-for-profit organisation setup by local Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez way back in 1966 with the aim of helping local communities, cultural exchange and educating all generations on the ancient art of traditional weaving.
The artisans are paid fair wages for their products. All product prices are determined and set by the relevant communities, not by the centre. National taxes and administrative fees are then added onto the wholesale price.
Each community has its own unique technique and designs. In fact, woven textiles in Peru have always been used as a means of communication between communities, with different colours and patterns designating status, social class and territory.
The centre’s administrative and workshop base is in Chinchero, but if ever you find yourself in the Sacred Valley, be sure to visit the centre in Cusco, where you can see live weaving demonstrations and visit the textile museum.
Avenida del Sol 603, Cusco
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 7.30am – 8.30pm; Sunday 8.30am – 8.30pm.
Chinchero was known by the Incas as ‘the birthplace of the rainbow’, and that philosophy sure shines through to the production of their beautiful textiles. Chinchero has an active community of women weavers that are striving to keep this very important and unique art alive in Peru.
All products are individually woven using backstrap looms with complimentary technique designs. The products use a mixture of high quality sheep and alpaca wools which are coloured using all natural dyes derived from traditional plants and insects.
Accha Alta Community
The Accha Alta community is located in the district and province of Calca, about 3,800 metres above sea level in the highlands of Peru’s Sacred Valley. There are approximately 100 families in the community with their native language being Quechua. One hundred percent of the people in Accha Alta live in poverty, and weaving has become, like many villages in Peru, a means to use a traditional art to provide sustainable incomes to these families.
Accha Alta has weaving well anchored in community knowledge and traditions. However, up until the centre started working with the community in 1999, there was a heavy reliance on synthetic fibres. Now all artisans work with sheep, alpaca and llama wool to create quality products of unique and exquisite designs. Both men and women weave in this community.
COMMUNITY PROJECTS WORLDWIDE
The stunning and colourful products available in our Africa Collection are all sourced from various projects that work with local communities in several countries, to assist individuals and groups to gain empowerment through employment.
Telephone Wire Bowls
From the Zulu word meaning 'with hands', this project was established in 1996 in the subsistence farming area of KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa where unemployment was up to 80%.
The project was established to utilise the traditional skills in basketwork, sewing & beading. New skills and techniques have since been introduced through training workshops and now 650 people are receiving an income through this project. Most of the artisans are women, who can make the baskets in their own home and at a time that best suits, balancing their home duties
Almost half the weavers are aged between 16 - 28yrs and employment is increasingly difficult to find, therefore this work gives them an income and a sense of hope for the future.
A creche has been established in the community for weavers, whilst other support comes in the form of sponsorship for local soccer competitions as well as providing assistance with ongoing school requests eg. mowing the school's sportsfields.
Gone Rural Project
These brilliant table runners are sourced by our friends at Kalahari’s Gone Rural Collection, which was founded in Swaziland in 1987 to help women in rural communities find employment. Their aim is to create innovative contempory designs using traditional hand skills and locally sustainable raw materials.
The women, many of whom are grandmothers, work from home enabling them to maintain a traditional lifestyle and to care for their own children, and many vulnerable or orphaned children within their community.
Whilst Gone Rural provides income generation for the women, another organisation, Gone Rural boMake complements this process by supporting the lives of Swazi women through health, education & social programmes. It provides income for over 731 rural women.
Gone Rural boMake is a fair trade certified non-profit organisation which is supported by contributions from a portion of sales from Gone Rural products, private individual donations, as well as other donor organisations. Some ongoing programmes include: women's literacy, HIV/AIDS support, school fees bursary, clean drinking water & creating sustainable vegetable gardens for families.
Gone Rural boMake is committed to make a sustainable impact in rural Swaziland communities by bringing wellness, education and community development services to Gone Rural women artisans, complementing their income generation.
Zanele and her sister Stella, support their families by designing and making beaded jewellery, with the help of over 20 women whom they have taught their skills. One necklace can take approximately 2 days to make. The Ndebele people from present day Zimbabwe & South Africa have a rich history of beadwork which was originally made from seeds, grass, and sinew. Since the 1800's, when Europeans introduced Czechoslovakian glass beads, this art form has taken on more intricate designs, often inspired from the colour & patterns on their famously decorated houses.
THAI TRIBAL CRAFTS FAIR TRADE
Thai Tribal Crafts (TTC), established in 1973, is an agency sponsored by the Christian Service Foundation (Baptist) and registered in Chiang Mai in the name of "Thai Tribal Crafts". The main objective of TTC is to provide opportunities for improving the quality of life of the tribal people in the Northern Thailand under the principles of Fair Trade. TTC is a certified member of the World Fair Trade Organization and also a legal member of International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT) since 17 May 2002.
Seven Hill tribes of Northern Thailand are involved in the project: the Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lawa, Lisu and Mien groups, as well as many women working in Chiang Mai.
Traditionally these hill tribes are nomadic peoples, supporting their families in slash and burn agricultural activities. This is no longer sustainable and there are no new places for them to move on to. As a part of its environmental policy, the Thai Government has prohibited the felling of trees and clearing of hillside land, leaving tribal people with fewer means to support their families.
The production and sale of handicrafts is one way for the hill tribes to achieve sustainable livelihoods without impacting the traditions of tribal community life. In fact, this is one livelihood that helps restore and revive these traditions which otherwise might have been forgotten.
Fair Trade Principles
TTC operates under the principles of Fair Trade: the main goal is to pay the producers the highest price as possible and sell the products at a fair and decent price. Any financial gain realised beyond basic needs goes back to the tribal people in the form of benefits. TTC trade is based on equality and fairness.
TTC advocates and promotes Fair Trade to improve the livelihood of tribal people in Northern Thailand. As members of WFTO and the International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT), they are committed to:
- Ethical issues
- Equal employment opportunities
- Concern for the environment
- Respect for producer’s cultural identity
- Education and advocacy
- Improving working conditions
- Concern for people.
THAICRAFT FAIR TRADE
ThaiCraft is a Fair Trade certified organisation, working within the principles of fair trade to generate a fair income for village artisans in Thailand with the objective of keeping Thai craft traditions alive. They work with over 60 artisan groups in Thailand, with a focus on people with special needs, to create fine, high quality handmade products. ThaiCraft is a founder member of the Thailand Fair Trade Alliance and WFTO Asia, and has been a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation since 1995.
Penguin’s Smile works in a sustainable manner to preserve the earth and Thai traditions for future generations. The name was inspired by an acknowledgement of the effects that climate change has on the world’s penguin species, to help raise awareness of people’s responsibility to the environment. Penguin’s Smile works with ThairCraft Fair Trade to provide a wide variety of Thai handicrafts, gifts and decorative items in traditional Thai Batik (ethnic) fabric, using the best quality raw materials, sustainable and functional design, and high standard fabrication practices.