Empowering Women Through Design in Rural Peru

by Awamaki
Oct 22, 2012

Update from the seamstresses!

Computer Classes with Flor and Justa
Computer Classes with Flor and Justa

Dear supporters,

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!

Paula writes,

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 info@awamaki.org 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

Product Wall, featuring collaborative design work
Product Wall, featuring collaborative design work
Estella & Justa working alongside Quechua weavers
Estella & Justa working alongside Quechua weavers
Product pricing workshop
Product pricing workshop
Measuring raw materials for pricing
Measuring raw materials for pricing
Discussing textile specifications with weavers
Discussing textile specifications with weavers
Weavers self-managing Lab textile orders
Weavers self-managing Lab textile orders
Independent production work, Andria
Independent production work, Andria's outerwear



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Organization Information


Location: Ollantaytambo, Cusco - Peru
Website: http:/​/​www.awamaki.org/​
Project Leader:
Mary Kennedy Leavens
Ollantaytambo, Cusco Peru
$19,440 raised of $23,000 goal
403 donations
$3,560 to go
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