We work with producers partners from over 15 countries from around the world. Most of them work on a cooperative setting, where mostly are women with children and where their decisions are democratically made. Creating economic development for them is crucial, as well as it is to provide them a safe environment. Expanding their market is also important to keep them busy year round, so they can educate their children.
Meet our producer partners from Chiapas, Mexico.
Maya textiles are the clothing and other textile arts of the Maya peoples, women have traditionally created textiles in Maya society, and textiles were a significant form of ancient Maya art and religious beliefs.
The most prevalent and influential aspect of women’s clothing in ancient times is the huipil, which is still prominent in Guatemalan and Mexican culture today. The huipil is a loose rectangular garment with a hole in the middle for the head made from lightweight sheer cotton. The huipil is usually white with colorful cross-stripping and zigzag designs woven into the cloth using the brocade technique still commonly used today. The huipil could be worn loose or tucked into a skirt; this depends on the varying lengths of the huipil. Huipils were important displaying one’s religion and tribal affiliation. Different communities tended to have different designs, colors, lengths as well as particular huipils for ceremonial purposes. It was uncommon and often disgraceful to wear a huipil design from another community within one’s village; although, it was a sign of respect to wear a community’s huipil when visiting another village. Although, women were not just limited to their community’s design. Instead the design offered an outline for what women were required to have and within the community design women were allowed creativity to make theirs different from others often to express praise to different animals around the collar.
Miguel and his family make one of a kind handcrafts: Wool stuffed animals, Embroidered table runners, woven belts and bracelets
Miguel and his family sell their crafts to make a living. They are a happy family feeling proud of what they do, they keep and share their heritage, art, and traditions to the world. With Fair Trade, they can feed their children and give them an education to brake the chain of poverty.
Miguel and her family of 12 are from an indigenous community in Chiapas. They speak Tzotzil, wear traditional dress, and have unique customs. Martha is only 21-years-old and is the oldest daughter and most fluent Spanish-speaker, and therefore a leader within the family. She and the rest of family handcrafted toys made from wool that they sheer from their own sheep.
Miguel and his family were born and raised in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.
Chiapas is the southern most state in all of Mexico, bordering Guatemala, land of the most skillful Mayan weavers who combine modern and ancestral techniques.
Chiapas’ most important handcraft is textiles, most of which is cloth weaved on a backstrap loom. Indigenous girls often learn how to sew and embroider before they learn how to speak Spanish. They are also taught how to make natural dyes from insects, and weaving techniques. Many of the items produced are still for day-to-day use, often dyed in bright colors with intricate embroidery. They include skirts, belts, rebozos, blouses, huipils and shoulder wraps called chals. Designs are in red, yellow, turquoise blue, purple, pink, green and various pastels and decorated with designs such as flowers, butterflies, and birds, all based on local flora and fauna. Commercially, indigenous textiles are most often found in San Cristóbal de las Casas, San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán.
In woven textiles, the first step is preparing fiber, which can come from plants, such as cotton or maguey, or animals, such as wool from sheep. The loose fibers are spun into threads by hand, with spindles, a long stick-like device for holding the thread, and whorls, a weight held on the spindle to increase its motion.
In the pre-Columbian era, Mayan women exclusively wove with backstrap looms, that use sticks and straps worn around one’s waist to create tension. After European contact,treadle looms were introduced, although backstrap looms continue to be popular. Bone picks were used before contact and were unique in that they had different designs for most families and were usually passed on from generation to generation with the elite having the most expensive and beautiful.
Each one of our producer partners share the passion that they inherited from their ancestors, that is the “Mayan Culture and Traditions”.
Meet our “Alpaca Knitters” partners from Peru.
Changing women’s lives one garment at a time.
Our products keep hundreds of knitters representing over 20 knitting co-operatives and 40 family based knitting groups busy throughout the year. All of our clothing is made by skilled artisans with whom we maintain in very close contact. They are truly expert knitters. They take pride in their work and seem to genuinely enjoy what they do for a living. The most rewarding aspect of operating a Fair Trade company is seeing firsthand the impact on the lives of these artisans and their families who supply us with our unique products. The areas where they live are very economically depressed. They express their gratitude for the opportunity to sell their products overseas, and genuinely enjoy designing and developing new products in the hope of having more and more orders every year. In fact, this is a common thread to just about every in depth, work related conversation with them. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of items they were just allocated, they always ask “please give us more orders.”
Feeling appreciated and being able to be providers for their families is of utmost importance to these exceptional women. Just as we at Andes Gifts would like to thank you for your continued support, they would also like to say “gracias por darnos trabajo y esperanza,”which translated means “thank you for giving us work and hope”. Purchasing Fair Trade products is a great way to change lives around the world.
Our alternative production model respects and reinforces local traditions and the family structure. Almost all of our knitters work either in their own homes or together with other knitters in workshops, in their communities, where they swap stories, share ideas, and have access to tools and materials. They work at their own pace, in clean, spacious, and safe environments.
The knitters believe that there are many other advantages to this model. A vast majority of them have children whom they are able to stay in proximity to and to care for. As has been the case with many factory workers, they are not forced to either relocate to a larger city or lose their source of income. They spend very little money on work related transport. They work only the amount that they desire or are able to and don’t have the constant pressure of factory style production deadlines. Also, this flexibility allows them to stay close to and participate in their local traditions and customs. One such rural tradition in both Peru and Bolivia is the potato harvest or “chacra”.
Your purchase keep producers busy year round.