Behind the rainbow of runways looks and shop windows displaying the latest season fashion, is an industry that creates a lot of waste. Once upon a time it was unheard of to the consumer how much water and pesticides go in to growing cotton for our t-shirts, nor the amount of chemical dye that resulted in polluted water to create a pair of jeans. Not the mention the working conditions for workers that were behind the mass production of our unbelievably affordable clothes nowadays.
Mass production, over time, had also created other side-effects. The loss of appreciation to craftmanship ultimately drove to the loss of skills, culture, and many forms of art. We also stopped treasuring garments as they were no longer made to last, so things come and go, and longevity was a thing of the past. What was important was to follow the latest trends and keep swapping out the wardrobe.
To meet those self-created demands, garment makers create more than often what is required and in that process, the off cuts become textile waste.
Today, we are much more educated on the impact that textiles have to the environment and society. As consumers, we have the information to make better choices for our wellness and make less harm to the environment around us.
Our Stellar today, turned a hobby into her next life project – to preserve handcraft such as crocheting, provide working opportunities to women that hone those skills with a fair working wage in appreciation to such skills, and sourcing her material from textiles that otherwise would end up in the landfill as industry waste. Most of all, this was driven by the desire to create an example of a more sustainable future for the next generation.
With a lot of pleasure, we introduce to you MANUFAKTURA and its founder Maria Jose.
We’d love to hear a bit about the story of you and your brand. Where are you based and what is the concept behind MANUFAKTURA?
After living the amazing experience of having two sabbatical years abroad, traveling a lot and absorbing different cultures like a sponge; my head collected many ideas from all over the world … the confinement that followed this experience with Covid-19 pandemic, caused the need in me to materialize somehow everything I had experienced and seen … I might say, that a whole bunch of luck and the right people around me, helped me shape on the last trimester of 2020, what is now known as MANUFAKTURA. Our small workshop is located in the countryside, close to a small town Cayambe, Ecuador, near Quito, the capital.
Our mission is to create bags that contain much more than plain objects; We want our bags to contain social responsibility, ensuring that each bag represents a fair income for working mothers throughout the production chain. Bags containing liability with the environment, whose raw material is made with what textile companies discard and become huge amounts of waste.
Bags that recover traditions, such as the art of crocheting, updating it and materializing it in colorful, versatile and trendy accessories; attractive enough to raise awareness of shopping local produced well-made fashion.
And finally by using a mix and match concept that gives a single bag, many different looks and characteristics, versatility that translates into a better and greater use of the garment.
What inspired you to start a sustainable accessories brand focusing on handwoven bags?
Both my inspiration and drive has been my eldest daughter, who is starting her career as a fashion stylist… perhaps wanting to give her an example that the sometimes cold or empty world of fashion MUST have content, time, depth, meaning beyond merely aesthetic or profit.
We’re inspired by the social responsibility you take on with MANUKAKTURA. Tell us more about the people behind the brand. So each bag is crocheted with love and by hand by an artist, women, someone’s mother! How did all this come along?
Every single one of the people involved with MANUFAKTURA; our raw material suppliers, our team of weavers, seamstresses of our scarves and our packaging, to the company who does the shipping logistics; we are all women, all mothers, hard workers and suppliers.
My master weaver, Ana, a fearless woman, inexhaustible; she is responsible for my addiction with crochet, she is a friend more than an employee. She controls production and inventory and coordinates the work of weavers, Mishell and Isabel.
Although a weaver myself also, lately responding growing demand, I’m more in charge of creative, media, sales, and post production areas; keeping always a new goal in mind, monthly icons that we all work non stop to achieve.
Looking back at the journey so far, is there anything you would like to tell your past self that you wish you knew back then? A tip for the entrepreneur that is still thinking if they can do this!
I want to think that a venture is an analogy of reaching a summit; the path requires preparation, learning new skills, sacrifice, constant work and perseverance. Nobody forces you to climb, your engine is yourself, and that conviction helps you overcome obstacles; Those who imitate you, if you see it with the right attitude, only force you to grow, to become stronger, to innovate and be one step ahead.
It is also having fun in the process, in my case it is a rainbow of color, getting excited with every little step we make, celebrating big every advance. Feeling and knowing that what you do makes a difference not only in your world, but in that of others who walk alongside you.
Finally, when you go up, the view, the results, the answer, becomes clearer, the clouds disperse and it is there, when you reach the top, that everything will make sense, and everything will have been worth it. This is where the next mountain awaits you, and you know that now you have the skills to continue the journey.
What part of being in the Myth community would you look forward most to?
I see it as a privilege, a synergy of common missions and objectives; cultures, projects from different corners of the world that come together to learn and grow.