Launching into Something New

Launching into Something New
By Isabel Strebe, Marketing and Communications intern We are getting closer and closer to being able to share our 2018 line with you, and we couldn’t be more excited! After bidding a bittersweet goodbye to this year’s head designer, Alejandra Carrillo-Muñoz, at the end of November, our artisans have been hard at work making items for sale for this year.

The new line, Cielo y Tierra, translating to Sky and Earth in English, is unlike anything Awamaki has done before. The design team has introduced many innovative concepts that push the limits of what has been created in the past.

The baby line, which has featured many of the same products for the past five years, has undergone an exciting change in designs. The line includes a fresh take on our traditional hats, mittens, booties, and toys inspired by animals from the Andes, and as well as introducing headbands, which are brand new to the baby line this year. Martha, Awamaki’s knitting production coordinator, has overseen the creation of the new baby line with our Puente Inca cooperative. “They are a different style,” she reflected. “I have been with Awamaki for almost three years and we have always had the same products. The only thing that has changed was the colors, not the design,” she noted about previous years. “They have come out beautifully … I think they will be more successful than the products we’ve had for the past five years.” Martha has been there each step of the way through various challenges, from learning new stitches to getting the perfect sizing. While the task was not an easy one, moving past some initial obstacles has been a valuable learning experience and has paid off with beautiful products.

“I know that the samples are hard to make so I was worried, but it has been good because the women have supported each other. There are some that do understand and others for whom it is a little harder.” Rosa, a knitter from our Puente Inca cooperative, has put a lot of hard work into mastering these changes to the baby products and now frequently helps others to learn the new techniques, such as crafting little sheep ears onto the hats. The ears are crocheted, not knit, which has proved challenging for many of the women. As experienced knitters, crocheting was something less familiar to them that had to be practiced.

Rose stressed, however, that once the new patterns were learned, the knitting became much easier. “They are not too difficult, they are simple, and they can be done quickly.” With collaboration, the women have made stunning samples for the line and learned new techniques along the way. Now, as the knitters move past making samples to making pieces for sale, they will continue to improve these new techniques. The skills gained from learning these patterns not only allow the artisans to deliver beautiful work for this line, but they can be applied to other products in the future, giving them the ability to reach an even wider market. “The change is good,” noted Rosa definitively, adding that she was most excited about working on the new headbands.

Throughout this crazy and exciting design process, we have been continually impressed with our artisans’ intricate knowledge of their craft, willingness to embrace challenges, and commitment to improving the livelihood of their communities. We are deeply thankful for your support every step of the way that has made this line possible and we can’t wait to share the final product with you in the coming months.

About Awamaki

Awamaki is a nonprofit fair trade social enterprise dedicated to connecting Andean artisan weavers with global markets. We collaborate with women artisans to support their efforts towards educational and financial independence by co-creating beautifully handcrafted knit and woven accessories using hertiage techniques.