Awamaki is currently working with our ten spinners to teach felting. In the raw fleece that they spin, there are fibers that are too short for spinning. Until now, these fibers went unused. Felting with this leftover fiber allows the spinners to use waste material to make beautiful felted products they can sell.
From January to April, Awamaki hosted two Designer Residents, Joey Korein and Rosie Boycott-Brown, who led the felting project. Joey has a background in fiber arts and teaching, and Rosie in knitwear design. The two designers worked with Awamaki's hand-spinning cooperative in Huilloc to make felt and soft alpaca felted products with the waste fiber left-over from the spinning process. The spinners had never felted before, so Rosie and Joey developed products in order of difficulty and traveled to Huilloc weekly to teach the 10 women the steps for producing different types of felted designs.
The design workshops were accompanied by classes in product costing, given by the Awamaki team. In April, the spinning cooperative had the opportunity to meet Nicole Gulotta of Nomadic Thread Society in NYC. Nicole explained to them the process she goes through as an importer to give the women a better understanding of the chain of production.
Awamaki has already begun selling two of the felted products in our local store in Peru, and has received orders from Nomadic Thread Society for one product, felted baby booties. Awamaki plans to reinforce these new skills by continuing to bring designer residents to work with the cooperatives in Peru and improve the women's felting skills. Eventually, Awamaki and it's volunteers plan to teach the women to lead the product design process as well.
Income in the hands of women is the best way to lift communities out of poverty. The new skills that the ten women have learned empower them to be leaders and better care for their families and communities. As a successful social enterprise, most of Awamaki's core costs are covered by income from our programs, but the cost of workshops that teach new skills, like felting, are entirely funded by donations like the funds we receive through this GlobalGiving project.
Thank you so much for your support!
Thank you for your ongoing support of the Awamaki Lab sewing cooperative. This is a special project report, written by Paula, one of the seamstresses (translated from the Spanish). We think this is a great testament to the increasing ownership and direction they are taking over the project!
The achievements of the past months have been our improved mastery of the patterns. We have done a number of orders including 30 mini skirts, 20 outerwear pieces, 20 change purses, 20 clutches, 30 shoulder bags, 15 t-shirts and 10 iPad cases.
Currently we are working on 10 skirts, 10 shoulder bags, 10 Gargi-style bags, 4 belts, 3 ponchos, 30 coin purses and 50 clutches.
What we like about the project is the experience we are acquiring. We are learning about each collection. We are not just learning to sew but also to read patterns. Our favorite products to sew are the shoulder bags, skirt, change purses and the backpacks that we designed!
The challenges of the project for everyone have been improving the finishings on each item, and the new accessory items which incorporate techniques like grommet application. We are still working to master these designs.
In the past few months, seamstresses have also taken charge of their production schedule, inventory and materials procurement. This is the direction in which we are heading the next few months: increased mastery of products, increased leadership in managing orders, inventory and other cooperative business, and increased design responsibilities. The seamstresses continue to take workshops on technical skills, but we have expanded these workshops to include Excel, English, and local supply chain management.
Their products are being sold in our store in Ollantaytambo, online and in trunk shows in Seattle, San Francisco and New York this holiday season. They were recently featured in Vogue. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information, and Annie@Awamaki.org for sales/press inquiries.
Your support has allowed Awamaki to teach four inexperienced seamstresses to sew, read patterns, and create products for the international market; now, they are learning to manage their cooperative business and create their own designs. With every accomplishment, they are earning an increased income to support themselves, their families and their communities. Thank you for your role in making this project possible!
*Translation help and edits by Kennedy Leavens, Executive Director, and Annie Millican, Director/Founder of Lab
Since our Season 2 Launch this January, we have been busy selling, producing, and refining our Awamaki Lab products to bolster support for our Ollanta cooperatives. In February, the Lab team hosted a series of trunk shows across the U.S., connecting with networks of friends and family, and former Awamaki volunteers to facilitate direct-to-customer sales. With the assistance of Awamaki’s U.S. board, we will be expanding this traveling sales model in the coming months to work towards a more cost-effective and lean manufacturing system. We will keep you posted on any upcoming events through our blog!
Those early quarter sales, along with your generous donations, have provided us with the capital needed to delve into capacity building and to begin our first season of production. Season Two designers Andria and Courtney have returned Peru to work alongside Awamaki’s seamstresses and knitters to oversee the completion of S2 orders. Our Women's Cooperartive staff continues to provide great insight into ways we can iterate and amend our program to achieve our mission through thoughtful, collaborative product development. This year, we’ll be developing classic, functional accessories that carefully utilize cooperative members’ skills, to improve communication and integration of our weavers, knitters and seamstresses.
We look forward to keeping you posted on weekly blog updates.
To celebrate our sewing cooperative's ONE YEAR anniversary, we're hosting a fundraising shindig! Over the past 12 months, we've worked hard to create a supportive, dynamic studio environment where novice seamstresses, visiting designers, and sewing professionals can exchange knowledge, artistic viewpoints, and laughs. The studio has become a productive space for the communion of innovative design ideas, leading to mutual professional growth amongst Lab's participants. The cumulative effect of this has been the realization of one of our most important goals: the encouragement of women to develop the professional skills and self-esteem that will ultimately lead to social transformation. We want to keep at it! And we need your help. This year, we focus on continuing our skills-building (capacitaciones) pattern making program, to impart the technical construction skills required to engage our seamstresses in more active and purposeful design work. In doing so, we get to make you beautiful products that represent and valorize the work of indigenous and rural female artisans in Ollantaytambo.
On March 14th, GlobalGiving will match ALL donations by 30% - please consider parting with a few bucks, euros, soles, and we'll reciprocate by making you the most covetable, one-of-a-kind garments and accessories possible!
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