Since our last update, Awamaki’s women’s weaving cooperatives have been busy learning new design skills! Over the past few months, the women in the rural communities of Patacancha and Kelkanka have been learning about color theory and measurement. As Awamaki continues to organize training workshops for the women of our weaving cooperatives so that they can produce internationally marketable products, we in turn learn more about how and why the women design their textiles the way they do, with specific inconography and colors. This is a great example of the intercultural connections that Awamaki fosters.
During the recent color theory workshops in Patacancha, Awamaki’s most recent Resident Designer, Tara Gainer, taught the women about the color wheel, and organized hands-on activities with the women to explore their perceptions of different colors and color combinations. The women worked as a group to assign a Quechua name to each color on the color wheel, setting standard names that will now be used between Awamaki and the cooperative to better communicate special orders. This exercise also allowed Tara to teach the women basic descriptive Spanish words for the colors, such as bright and dull. By keeping all of the women on the same page with standard vocabulary, product consistency and quality control will be easier to implement.
Awamaki’s Quality Control Coordinator and Product Designer, Tessa Ranish-O’Donnell, has been in Kelkanka recently, teaching the women about measurement. At the beginning of the workshop, Tessa learned that most of the women didn’t even have their own tape measures, and they had been visually estimating the size of their textiles, which had been creating inconsistencies in size. Tessa reviewed basic counting and measuring skills with the women, and made each woman her own tape measure. Now, the women will continue to practice measuring their own textiles with the president of the cooperative. The president will then be checking the length and width of each textile before it is turned into Awamaki for sale, making sure that consistent sizes are being used.
Workshops and skill building exercises like the color theory and measurement workshop would not be possible without the continued support of Awamaki’s donors like you. By donating money to Awamaki for specific projects, our staff, volunteers, and the women of our cooperatives have the resources they need to continue improving their skills and expanding their markets. As the women gain new expertise, their products become ready for international sale, extending the economic opportunities for the women and giving them a chance to earn more money to support their families. Thank you for your continued support! Awamaki looks forward to keeping you updated on the progress of our cooperatives.
Awamaki's "Empowering Women Through Design in Rural Peru" project has been making great progress, and our cooperatives have been taking advantage of some valuable trainings recently. This last week, Awamaki was able to help support Daniel Soncco's trip to Patacancha, where he led two natural dye workshops to the women of Awamaki's weaving cooperative. Daniel, from Parombamba, has worked with Awamaki for several years now, and he is our weaving and dying expert due to his extensive self-taught knowledge of local plants and natural dyes. By supporting Daniel's trip to Patacancha, he is able to spread his wealth of knowledge to other cooperatives that Awamaki's works with, giving the women advanced skills and increased economic opportunities.
Interested in continuing to support Awamaki's "Empowering Women Through Design in Rural Peru" project? Donate this Wednesday, June 12th and take advantage of Global Giving's Donor Matching Day! All donations made on June 12th will be matched by Global Giving by 40%, but only until matching funds run out... so make sure to make your donation early in the morning!
And if we have the highest number of unique donors on Wednesday, we have the chance to win a $1,000 bonus from Global Giving, so even the smallest donations can make a huge difference to our weaving cooperative in Patacancha!
Thank you for your continued support. The wonderful work at Awamaki would not be possible without the generous donations from supporters like you! Keep track of our donation success this Wednesday with us as we post updates to Facebook.
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
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.