Empowering Women Through Design in Rural Peru

by Awamaki
May 20, 2013

Awamaki's Spinning Cooperative Learns to Felt!

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!



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Organization Information


Location: Ollantaytambo, Cusco - Peru
Website: http:/​/​www.awamaki.org/​
Project Leader:
Mary Kennedy Leavens
Ollantaytambo, Cusco Peru
$23,325 raised of $28,000 goal
425 donations
$4,675 to go
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