Women Crush Wednesday: Kate Mitchell

by Christina Parodi, Marketing & Communications Intern

Fresh off the plane from New York City, our woman crush this Wednesday is Kate Mitchell, the new head designer at Awamaki Lab. In the short time she has been with us, you can already hear her lively discussions with our WCP volunteer Kasey in the lab about what the future holds for our latest design cycle.

Here through at least the next two design cycles, 18 months-2 years, she has big plans for our design program and hopes to bring it to the next natural level. When she spoke of her plans, her eyes grew wide with excitement, telling me she has so many ideas but really wants to take some time here to see what is the best for us, and the cooperatives we work with. She’s happy that there is so much to build on from what she describes as our already “incredible” designs and wants to learn how all the pieces fit together so she can set goals for Awamaki that fulfill her desire to make beautiful things.

Always on the look out for an adventure, Kate decided to come to Ollantaytambo seeing Awamaki as a perfect fit for herself. With a lot of experience working for non-profits, she seemed to be the perfect fit for Awamaki as well. Kate enthusiastically listed off the different types of non-profits she’s worked for, each having a wide range of purposes, from women’s empowerment to environmentalist.

Her experience with design goes as far as her even knowing how to spin, weave and knit her own products and she just earned a degree in textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. With her wide knowledge about knitted products and textiles, Kate has the ability to empathize with the women in our cooperatives, really knowing how much work goes into each product on their side. This can also help with quality control, as she can identify errors with easy fixes and show the women ways they can fix them.

As we spoke about Ollantaytambo, Kate could not put into words how enchanted she is by this town and how it seems as if she is in a dream. She loves how tall the looming mountains that surround the town are and how nice the people are who live here.

Having hosted foreign students in the US before, Kate has previous experience with the homestay dynamic, except this time, she is on the other side. Coming from a big family herself, with her mother, daughter, sisters and plethora of nieces, she really values family life and is glad she can get this here from her homestay family. She could not be happier with the kind and considerate people she is staying with and is so happy she is able to practice her Spanish with conversations at the dinner table. Really emphasizing how much new experiences mean to her, Kate cannot wait to see what she will learn from her time with Awamaki.

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.