Senor Tomas sewing
From the wool of Peruvian alpacas to the handbag over your shoulder, do you ever wonder how we go from traditional textiles to your favorite accessories? Exquisite weavings done by artisans like Gregoria don’t turn into our high quality finished products overnight. Insert Señor Tomás, a master-sewer with over 15 years of experience. “I learned how to sew when I was a little kid, working in an industrial factory,” he shared with us. About 27 years ago, Señor Tomás moved to Chinchero, Perú, where he encountered female artisans creating a myriad of beautiful textiles. Awed by the elegance of their work, he found his passions lay in the weaving tradition of the Andes.
Señor Tomás started working with Awamaki two years ago, and he has established incredibly strong relationships with the women in our partner cooperatives ever since. He collaborates with them and teaches them how to elevate their work. Señor Tomas turns the beautiful, traditional textiles that our partner artisans create into modern, useful pieces. He explained that, “for each bag, you need a distinct style.” These distinct styles allow for creative expression by the women artisans. To ensure standard dimensions, Señor Tomás notes “The women need to follow exact measurements to make sure our products are high quality.” He can often be found teaching them how to do just that and explaining why it is important.
Up until this July, Señor Tomás and our designers, working hard to create products that fully showcase the talents of our partner artisans, still struggled with an outdated leather machine. As Señor Tomás commented, “We have a lightweight machine [for our leather], but it doesn’t help us that much. Our leather machine is flat.” A more spherical machine would allow the bag to retain its shape while being stitched, better preserving our locally-sourced leather and allowing us to do the artisans’ textiles justice (and better fill our growing demand!). “If we had a better machine” he continued, “our products could be better quality, more durable, and more precise. We need this machine to make the best products possible.”
On this past Bonus Day, July 18, with generous contributions from our GlobalGiving donors, we raised the $1500 necessary to buy a new leather machine for Señor Tomás and the women artisans. This means that he will no longer have to contend with a less effective leather machine, allowing Señor Tomás and our team to turn out products more efficiently and with more precision. This will increase our production capacity, which increases income opportunities for our partner artisans, and showcases their talents.
We want to express our deep gratitude to you for your continued support, belief and generosity. The new leather machine, like all your investments in our projects and in our artisan partners, enable over 200 women artisans to build thriving businesses, and earn a livelihood to support themselves and care for their families.
Senor Tomas cutting leather
Our Inti Crossbody bag during production
Sewing a strap
Tools and locally sourced leather
Inti textiles with artisan name of who made them