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Welcome to Huaywasi’s Summer 2019 Line!

We are so excited to be able to bring together a mixture of old favorites, upcycled innovations, and new ideas in our beachy summer collection. 

To start off, because of how loyal and supportive our Huaywasi followers are, we want to be transparent and explain the price mark ups on some of the items in the collection, particularly pieces that are similar to those we've done in the past. We never want you to question where your money is going and this season we made a couple changes to benefit you and our artisans that incited this increase.

Firstly, our artisans got a raise! As a fair trade brand, it is of our utmost importance to provide our lovely artisan partners with the resources they need and deserve. The final price of a product correlates to how many hours worked on the total products. So when the hourly wage goes up, so do our prices.

This year we also decided that the quality of our product accessories and findings needed to match the high quality of the products themselves. The main example being paying more for higher quality zippers for our accessories. Thank you again for your loyalty and understanding, and we hope you can see the new efforts put into our products!

 

Inspirations

Our most recent collection is our most cohesive to date. We established this line’s colors as a sunny marigold yellow, deep midnight blue, and vivid pine green. All three are inspired by jewel tones which are known to flatter a wide variety of skin tones and include some of the top colors forecasted for Spring/Summer 2019.

In terms of our designs, we wanted to create pieces that had subtlety as well as an element of longevity that could last through the summer and into fall. Exemplified by using colors like navy that can be paired with brighter tones in the warmer months and neutrals in the colder months.

The piece that we centered the collection around was our fun, tropical Vivi top. This blouse embodies the bright and playful spirit of the collection and features all three colors established for the line.

Another example of our ‘color collaborating’ theme this season is our gorgeous Verano tote made by Daria! Daria has been looming this piece completely by hand for years and has perfected it over time. This season we shifted the colors of this Daria staple to be an exact match for all of the tanks in the collection so you can be color coordinated going out with your tank and your tote!

Our Vero tanks are the perfect piece for hot summer days. We wanted to make a top that was super light and breathable to keep you cool in the heat which is why we chose fabric made of a blend of French silk. The tank is designed to be flattering for most body types with an adjustable tie at the waist to make it snugger or looser. Sticking with our theme of longevity, the top was also made to be an essential, multipurpose top that can be dressed up and worn to work or paired with jeans as a more casual look.

For a while now, we’ve been wanting to add a classic and simple black pencil skirt to our product list. And here it is with our Venus skirt! This was one of the pieces we had the most trouble developing because we wanted to make sure the fit could work on many body types. Artisan Guillermina was really patient with us and the design process as we went through many iterations of the skirt to achieve the perfect result!

To the skirt we also added a touch of ‘tela andina’ on the pockets (yes it has pockets!). Tela andina translates to fabric from the Andes and is very traditional in Peruvian clothing. This accent subtly calls back to our Peruvian origins while still being a versatile addition to your wardrobe.

 

Growing toward a greener future

This season we really wanted to start thinking more sustainably, incorporating  upcycling, recycling, and sustainable fabrics. Our first experimentation with sustainable design practices is with our Vanessa tank. For this top we switched from using cotton blend to linen blend fabrics. Linen needs much less water than cotton to be produced as well as being biodegradable and uses minimal pesticides.

In addition to environmental benefits, linen also has many great comfort features, such as its high moisture absorption, which contributes to the breathability and lightness of our tank. Additionally, similar to the Venus skirt, we added tela andina accents on the back to give it just the right amount of a Peruvian touch.

Next up we have our limited edition Carina tank, which has undergone quite a transformation. This tank actually used to be a part of a floor length dress design that we couldn’t put into production. Not wanting to put this beautiful suede fabric to waste, Huaywasi’s manager, Jill, was inspired to make tank tops out of the dresses. Jill only showed artisan Elena one picture of a similar tank on Pinterest and weeks later Elena whipped up 4 of these upcycled tops!

The Correa clutch is a joint creation between two artisans Nélida and Herminia. Nélida first made a belt of hand loomed panels and then Herminia created a bag around it out of recycled canvas materials. This product is also limited edition small batch, so be sure to grab yours quick!

 

The Pucará Bull Backstory

Our final two accessories call back to an important piece of Peru’s culture, the Pucará bull. This bull is actually a blend of Spanish and Peruvian traditions that comes from the introduction of Spanish bullfighting to Peru. The Pucará bull sculpture was originally used in the highlands of the Andes and put on roofs as a sign of good luck and well being. This tradition has now evolved into popular housewarming and wedding gifts to bring good health and prosperity to households.

Artisan Herminia incorporates this tradition through a screen print motif of the bull on our adorable Torito clutches and coin purses that are the perfect size for traveling! Artisan Saida makes the traditional ceramic bulls seen across Peru. For this season, we have adapted this original figurine to serve a dual purpose and hold your favorite succulents and small plants in the new Pucara planter.

We are so proud of our Summer collection, especially with the emphasis on collaboration between all of our artisans. Again, we are so glad we are able to be a fair trade brand and support all of the wonderful artisans that help us make all of these products a reality.

We are still working on the sustainability side of things, but being environmentally conscious is something that we will continue to try to improve in future collections. Until then, we love showcasing our artisan partners' talents through intimate, cohesive, and beautifully designed clothing and accessories. We hope you will love this collection as much as we do!

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HUAYWASI TIMELINE
7 WOMEN + FAIR WAGES + EDUCATION = HUAYWASI
In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we are celebrating the progress Huaywasi has made by sharing our complete timeline and history with you.

 

Huaywasi formed as a branch of the Women’s Empowerment Program at the Light and Leadership Initiative, a 501(c)3 nonprofit in Huaycán, Peru.

 

The following information was collected by an interview with Lara DeVries, the founder of the Light and Leadership Initiative, the parent organization to what would later become Huaywasi: Handmade in Peru. Various other contributors include past and present Huaywasi Program Directors. All quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from Lara.

 

Keep reading to see how far this group of women has come, how we have grown, and what our goals are for the future.

 

 

2007-2009: The Idea
Originally from Tinley Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Lara visited Peru for the first time in 2007 while she was finishing up college and volunteering in Lima. During her four month stay, she met a family who lived in Huaycan and invited her to visit for lunch.

 

After returning to the US, she continued to think about this community and had a strong inclination she would return. Lara remained in contact with that family and made a few subsequent visits to Huaycan and Lima between 2007 and 2009.

 

“During this time I explored the idea of starting a non-profit and then decided it was the direction we wanted to go in.”

 

Back in Chicago, she began fundraising to start the Light and Leadership Initiative. During a past visit she had held a forum and talked with quite a few community members to better understand what Huaycan could benefit from the most, and with the overwhelming response being education, she decided to move to Peru permanently and set up shop.

 

She connected with some of the first Light and Leadership employees to help her along the way, and who are consequently still with the organization today, ten years later.

 

May/June 2009: The Formation

 The English program at LLI officially launched for kids and women in two areas of Huaycán. Sports and arts classes followed shortly afterwards.

 “English was our first program that we offered to the kids because that was something I felt comfortable doing. I had taught English before, I had taken online courses to help prep for that, I had also tutored extensively, so I felt comfortable to launch that. From there we just built up our kids program.”

 

2010/2011: The Women’s Program

 As the kid’s program begun to grow, a women’s empowerment program started in Huaycan’s Zone Z and Zone D. Lara and other volunteers got to know many of the artisans through free classes and workshops, including some that focused on creating crafts.

 In one knitting workshop, the artisans approached Lara and other LLI team members to share that they were not necessarily looking to learn to knit, but rather develop a market to sell products they already had experience making. These products ranged from knitwear to crochet to hand woven pieces.

 A group of artisan women naturally formed and they partnered with LLI  to begin selling their pieces. LLI would purchase them directly from the artisans to sell at fundraisers for LLI in the U.S. The idea was to make this a profitable market where these women could make a living off their handmade pieces, allowing them to support themselves through their craft and their art.

 “Naturally, this spilled over into people telling us, ‘Hey, I know of this craft fair, why don’t you guys sell there? Hey I know of this fair trade business why don’t you guys sell there?’”

 

2012 - 2015: The Development
As the years went by, the artisanal products continued to sell well at LLI fundraisers, which prompted people to the team more about craft fairs or fair trade businesses that LLI could participate in using these women’s products, in order for them to sell more things to LLI.

 

“Huaywasi was something that organically formed from the women’s program. LLI didn’t start the women’s program looking to incorporate artisans or incorporate fair trade policies - so that was something that was an unintended consequence/impact, but a very positive one that resulted from honest communication we had built with the women.”

 

This increased brand awareness eventually allowed the LLI team and artisans to launch the concept of a fair trade brand which is now Huaywasi: Handmade in Peru.

 

In the beginning years we were working from order to order, without design concepts and cohesive collections. We would dream up a concept of a product and approach the artisan to make it, or we would buy products that the artisans were already making.

 

For example, Daria’s woven cosmetic bag is her own design that she was already producing, and we are still selling this original bag at Huaywasi today. We believed (and still believe) in the idea that the artisans and their products would resonate to an American market, and we were determined to translate that success into fair financial gains for the women.

 

“Let’s get money into these artisans hands and let’s do our best to be able to sell these products because we believe that these women are talented and we also believe that there is a market for this.”

 

We slowly began to build more organization, making our collections cohesive and visiting the artisans to collaborate and share ideas. We now had regular artisan meetings to give updates and form design concepts.

 

Carina Martin, who was the Women’s Empowerment Program Manager from 2014-2016, was an integral part of standardizing operations, adding other product lines such as ceramics, and also brainstorming our name!

 

“I came up with the name Huaywasi in late 2014. After trying to brainstorm several options (we wanted something unique when Googled, but still reflective of our program), the team all agreed and liked Huaywasi best! A combination of 'Huay' for Huaycan and the Quechua word 'wasi' meaning home.”

-Carina

With these enhanced operations along with our resolute passion came the desire to become a business member of Chicago Fair Trade in 2016.

 

During this process of becoming Chicago Fair Trade, we were also receiving feedback from international LLI volunteers and supporters. Their ideas, such as starting an Etsy shop, and support, such as purchasing our pieces, was the feedback and pressure we needed to know people really were interested in what we’re doing.”

 

2016 - 2018: The Organization
In 2016, Shelby O’Brien joined the team as the Women’s Program Manager, but she took an interest specifically in the Huaywasi artisans, collaborating with them and believing in them and the brand in order to take the program a step further.

 

“Huaywasi has always been about the artisans. They are the heart, talent, and inspiration behind the project. Watching the artisans learn and grow together was a really special experience for me as Program Manager. All the little steps - trying out new products, making errors, learning what sells and what doesn't, incorporating new materials and techniques - have really added up to big transformations in the project. When I look back 4 or 5 years ago and see the progress that the artisans have made in both their artistic trades and entrepreneurial knowledge, it's really pretty incredible. I'm consistently amazed by the Huaywasi artisans' talents, and I look forward to seeing what they do next”

-Shelby

Shelby and Lara discussed distribution channels and branding from a more developed business perspective, with the result being Huaywasi.com launching in August 2016. Our logo was generously designed by a remote volunteer graphic designer who truly understood the Huaywasi vision. It’s particularly meaningful for the brand because it’s based off the silhouette of one our artisan partners, Nelida.

 

“Since 2016 we have been going ever since. Like any project, or any organization, or any company really, there’s a fair share of growing pains.These growing pains have taught us a lot and have made this process so rewarding.”

 

 

2019 and beyond: The 5-Year Vision
“We believe in the artisans, their skill level, and the products their producing. All of these things make this process worthwhile and give us confidence in the future. There’s a strong future for what we can achieve with the products and what it could do for the rest of the organization - specifically the women’s empowerment program.”

 

Moving forward this year, we have many ambitious and exciting goals for both our products and artisans. Starting with our Spring/Summer 2019 collection, one of our most exciting changes is the beginning of our one-of-a-kind upcycled pieces. Any past samples that have unfortunately not been able to be put into production, we try to re-process to create something new along with the help of the artisans’ creative skills. Becoming more sustainable, environmentally and economically, is important to us.

 

In the future, we would love to hire more full time, Peruvian staff for Huaywasi and LLI as we continue to grow. But as of 2019, we’re thrilled to announce our second artisan pay raise since Huaywasi was founded! We want to ensure that artisans are receiving enough economic support to where they feel comfortable and confident enough in their financial progress to support their families and other endeavors/goals in their personal lives.

 

“I want the artisans to think of Huaywasi not just as a job, but an opportunity to pursue whatever goals they have in their professional and personal lives. If there is a way to make resources available to them (new skills, financial stability, entrepreneurship opportunities, etc.) to achieve something they otherwise thought wasn’t possible, then I think Huaywasi has accomplished an incredible goal. Huaywasi is and always has been rooted in a desire for women to pursue their dreams and learn from one another--whether an artisan, intern, designer, or manager--and this constant symbiotic relationship I think will continue to drive its success.”
-Jill, current Huaywasi Program Manager

 

Our long-term goal for Huaywasi is to make LLI a more sustainable organization in terms of funding. In Huaywasi’s 5 year plan, the profits from the artisan’s products will filter back into the Women’s Program.

 

We want to see the project grow because we know there are a lot of positive things that will come with that, but there are still some logistical challenges we need to work through in terms of where the artisans want to go in the future.

 

We’ve had discussions on if we do grow, do any of them want to move into management, or extend their role, for example, to complete orders and lead operations, or start involving more women in supporting roles. These are ongoing discussions that we’re having with the artisans that continue to keep Huaywasi an open and inviting environment to learn. Growing and scaling a business is something we’re taking one day at a time and we want to ensure it’s done with the right intent for the artisans and brand.

 

“The toughest thing to convey about Huaywasi is that each artisan does have a background and does have a story and we all know them personally; this isn’t just another company that is shipping things out from a factory or anything like that. We’re very much a close knit and small scale project and there’s a lot of cool things to come from that.”

 

So as of now, we’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on for our Spring/Summer 2019 collection and we hope you continue to follow us on and offline. This year we’re working hard to cement our local Chicagoland presence, starting with Huaywasi being represented by Lara at monthly fair trade fairs/events as of April. Keep an eye out for us! :)

 

 

A final note from from Lara:
“It’s been amazing to see not only this project grow, but all of us women evolve into better versions of ourselves, myself included. Building this type of community among us has been something I have cherished. I now view community as something so powerful for women anywhere. I’m grateful to have the chance to work with such talented and inspiring women— how cool is my job?!?”

 -Lara

 

 

How you can get involved to make these Huaywasi goals a reality?
  1.   Come intern with us! We love volunteers to come to Peru, but we also have remote opportunities. Join us for design, photography and business development opportunities!
  2. Support our artisans by purchasing their pieces from our website
  3. Become a volunteer in Chicago and help sell our products at fairs
  4. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook
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What makes a piece from Huaywasi so special? Former Huaywasi fashion designer, Mariel Rico (pictured below), takes us behind the scenes on the process creation of one of our Spring/Summer 2018 favorites, the Mariel Skirt, and also shares some insights about Huaywasi and fair trade that she has learned along the way.

 Mariel tells us she was inspired by a skirt created by a Bohemian fashion designer, whom she reached out to and was given the designer’s blessing to use the design as a base for the Mariel skirt. Her goal was a Bohemian festival look with the floor length slitted skirt, combined with a touch of Peruvian flair using an Andean fabric patch on the side. 

 
What makes the creation of the Mariel Skirt unique??

Mariel told us that this skirt was special as it was one of her first samples she owned while interning with Huaywasi. She created the pattern herself, and wrote step-by-step instructions in Spanish to bring both the pattern and the skirt to life. But what truly gives the skirt unique meaning to her was the communication and trust built between herself and our artisan, Guillermina.

“Fair trade should always be collaborative between the designer and artisan—and the artisan should feel she has a safe place to speak her mind.”

Instead of simply giving Guillermina a picture of what she wanted the skirt to look like and waiting for her to create a sample, Mariel worked together with her using her written instructions and traveling to the artisan’s home 2-3 times a week to create various samples of the skirt and ensure the finalized piece was exactly what both had envisioned. This inspired confidence in Guillermina to voice her opinion and ideas on design, as well as helped Mariel learn new sewing and construction techniques, many of which were passed down to the artisans through mothers, grandmothers, and influential women in the community.

 

What was the most significant take-away from interning with Huaywasi??

As Mariel was describing her time spent with the artisans living in the Huaycán community, a common theme kept emerging.

“Women have this inherent connection despite all cultural differences.”

Memories that Mariel cherish most are those spent with the artisans talking and laughing about normal everyday topics. Whether they were all traveling together to Gamarra (the largest clothing and textile market in Peru), or spending time in the artisans’ homes, the bond created between the designers and artisans went further than a business partnership, they were family. This sense of community and togetherness built by women empowering women is what continues to drive Huaywasi forward today!

 

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Women's Program attendance is booming with LLI's new Women's Program Manager, Sandra Bjarnadottir. Read the interview below and get to know a little bit more about Sandra and her amazing personality!
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I am Sandra from Iceland. I studied Development and Gender in Spain; when the opportunity came to work as the Women’s Program Director ar LLI, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss. In my free time I like to travel, run, read, eat pizza and drink coffee :)
 
What is your favorite Huaywasi product so far?
I really love the Huaywasi bags.
 
What are your favorite Peruvian dishes so far?
I love the fresh fruit in Peru. But my all time favorite dish has to be ceviche.
 
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still working in the field of Women’s Empowerment, a lot of work has been done so far but we still have a long way to go!
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Meet our new Fashion Designer intern, Anna-Lena Rohbeck, aka Leni, who’ll be staying with us for a few months.
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? 
  
Hey there, I am Leni from Hamburg, in Germany. I am 28 years old and I studied Textile Design (BA), Fashion Design in Iceland for 6 months and Textile Engineering (MSc).
Hmm, my hobbies… I love music! In every kind of way. I have been to a lot of concerts and festivals. I love my vinyl collection and used to be a DJ for a couple of years.
Other than that, I love travelling the world, learning more about people and their culture.
 
Why did you choose to volunteer at Huaywasi?
 
I was looking for a job after I finished studying a year ago. I was sick of working 3 different jobs and applying for a “real” job. And I wanted to get out of safe and comfortable Europe; I wanted to go out and see the world. LLI and Huaywasi gave me the chance to work in the field I studied in for 7 years and do something useful and helpful with it. For example, empower and support the artisans. Working with the artisans and with the kids makes me really happy and learning from them is awesome.
 
What is your favorite Huaywasi product so far?
 
My favourite Huaywasi product so far is the Daria Cosmetic Bag Chocolate.
 
What are your favorite Peruvian dishes so far? 
 
Tortilla! But I also really like the street food. As a vegetarian, it’s actually funny to order a burger without meat, here. They will ask you 5 times if you really, really, really want to eat it without meat. And I looooove Peruvian fruits!!
 
Where do you see yourself in five years?
 
Hmm, that’s a tough question because I don’t like planning that much in the future. But I think I will have a position in a company where I am responsible for sustainable textiles. I want to make a contribution in sustainability, as well as in social and fair fashion. So I might be responsible for sustainable supply chains, certificates for fair fashion and using Germany as a production site. I want to work on low waste concepts and I want to find ways to reduce the use of chemicals in textiles. I wrote my Master's thesis about the impact of textile and fashion industry in marine litter, and I focused on synthetics like Polyamide, Polyethylene and Polyurethane. I would love to continue researching on this topic for the next years and reduce the impact of fashion on the world.
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Meet our new Fashion Designer intern, Charlotte Bennett, aka Charlie, who’ll be staying with us for a few weeks.
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? 
 
My name is Charlotte but I prefer Charlie. I am 20 years old, I am ¾ British and ¼ South African. I was born in Warwick in England. I currently study fashion design at the University of Leeds. And I am on my placement year. I started interning at Zalando in Berlin where I completed a 6 month product development internship. Then I came to Peru to do a fashion design internship which will last 7 weeks and will be completing more internships before I go back to university in September for my final year. I am a qualified football coach and have played football at the centre of excellence level when I was young. I am interested in design, sports, travel, business, cooking, reading and languages.
 
Why did you choose to volunteer at Huaywasi?
 
There are many reasons. The organisation gave me the opportunity to do what I love. This included designing clothing for women, men and babies. As well as try something new with designing ceramics. I wanted to learn more about fair trade and work for a company with a great purpose that help local people to better education and fair wages. I knew I’d also get the opportunity to coach sport to children which is something I love to do and have had experience with in the past. I have always loved to travel, so thought Peru would be a fantastic opportunity that would also give me the chance to improve my spanish skills.
 
What is your favorite Huaywasi product so far?
 
My favourite product is the Sierra pillow cover, I just love the colours.
 
What are your favorite Peruvian dishes so far?
 
Hmm that is difficult, can I say all of them? I really love the dishes with chicken, rice, red onion and cheese with a Peruvian sauce.
 
Where do you see yourself in five years?
 
I will be 25. So I see myself working as a designer for a big sportswear brand, hopefully living abroad and I will also be working on my own sportswear (or other clothing line) on the side, until it grows enough for me to do that full time. I’m hoping to speak fluently in another language, more international experiences, learning an instrument, making more great friends but most importantly just having fun.
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