There are no coincidences in life, only synchronicities.
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist described this theory as “a causal connecting principle that links mind and matter”, these connections happen through meaningful coincidences for the individual that is unexplainable by cause and effect.
It was exactly how I felt when meeting Fernanda (Fer) for this interview. Fer is an infinite creator looking to connect with people that can nourish inspiration, and ideas with a bigger meaning and purpose. In Myth we are always looking for these people, purpose-driven entrepreneurs, around the world to provide them a space of connection and growth. All to join forces and get far in the substance and form of our projects, far to those places that are sometimes difficult to get on our own.
Long before this interview, I came across her Instagram account and discovered someone who is creating artful pieces with artisianal products that I’ve always seen when traveling to the beach in Ecuador but never imagined them in a high-end decor setting.
I was moved by her motto ‘Become slow, become natural’. After getting to know her mission, I not only feel incredibly proud to have her as part of Myth, but also impressed and empowered to meet someone that is doing something in a way no one has ever done before. A pioneer in transforming raw, traditional handcrafted products that have always been perceived as ‘simple’ in fine craftsmanship with refined quality and design.
Amanatura lives to bring development and a better life to Ecuadorian artisans while preserving their culture and tradition. A project that also lives inside Fer, grounded with her purpose of achieving this slowly and naturally.
Hi Fer, tell us about Amanatura, how did it start?
I have always felt passionate about art, culture, history, craftsmanship, and everything that is autochthonous. This passion is what took me to create Amanatura.
It all started five years ago with a toquilla basket.
I fell in love with this unique piece I found and as I looked at it closely, I appreciated every thread of the artisan work and kept wondering about the story behind that object that captivated me so much. These types of baskets are handmade by artisans from Montecristi, a small town on the coast of Ecuador recognized for its traditional weaving craftsmanship and the use of natural fibers from the trees like the ‘paja toquilla’- Montecristi artisans are known for weaving the finest toquilla hats in the world.
This wonder took me to Montecristi in the search for more. I needed to see how are these pieces made and who are those talented artisans. When I arrived, I discovered more baskets of different types and designs and it made me realize that this beautiful heritage of my country that is unique fine craftsmanship, has never been exploited or appreciated as such. So, I took a few pieces home to try them out and I discovered many practical ways of using them in different setups- they brought meaning and life to every corner.
Then I visited other towns in Ecuador to find more of these artisanal creations and to learn the production techniques and time. I started to make small orders to test their quality, play with the designs and learn to work with the makers.
Little by little this adventure took shape. I started selling baskets to my friends and with time, Amanatura has naturally evolved to be a marketplace with a curated and created collection of handcrafted goods.
What is the mission of Amanatura?
My mission is to promote economic and social wellbeing within the artisan community in Ecuador by giving them opportunities to develop their work so that they can subsist their identity by continuing their craftsmanship work, keep their lives in their villages, and preserve their traditions.
“Behind every Amanatura product there is a person, a family, or a community to which you are contributing so that they can subsist through craftwork that rescues traditions, that is also sustainable and in accordance with the environment.”
Fernanda Ponce, Founder of Amanatura
I am touched by your Ethos! Tell us more about this social commitment.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of poverty and inequality in my country. Lack of education is one of the biggest issues but as I get to know artisans, I realize it’s not just that, it’s a matter of low self-esteem.
What hurts me the most is to see how these extremely talented hardworking people are not able to even consider ways of progressing because, in their lives, this has never been a possibility.
Many of them have to leave their hometown to find a job in the big cities, leaving behind their families but also their ancestral craft traditions which are getting lost.
Most weavers are women and this job allows them to be at home taking care of their kids while bringing income to the household. I work with 13 artisans and I’ve learnt so much from them, they are incredible creators capable of doing unimaginable things.
Whenever I bring an idea, they find a way to make it happen with creativity, willingness, and compromise.
I validate their abilities and aim to empower them by building a sustainable relationship where we learn and grow together and this way, help to preserve their lives and traditional craft.
On the other hand, I’d like to conscientize consumers, make them realize the differences between an industrialized and an artisanal product, and appreciate the cultural value of our local craftsmanship. Paying a fair price for a creator’s work can make a huge impact on their life.
What kind of materials do you work with and why do you choose these materials?
I work with three types of fibers that are naturally sourced from plants that grow locally on the coast of Ecuador.
Toquilla straws come from a type of palm tree that grows especially in the region of Manabí. ‘Mimbre’ is a vegetable fiber obtained from a shrub of the willow family; and ‘Zapán’ is obtained from the bark of banana bush stems.
Artisans take the materials that are within their reach and produce according to nature’s demand, it is a completely clean process.
In your catalog we find a variety of products ranging from baskets, lamps to handbags and ceramics. Can you talk us through the process, from the creative concept, design process to the final product?
The baskets and handbags are the artisan’s original designs as this allows them to make and expand their own creations. We work together in developing different sizes and variations, as well as improving the quality to offer finely crafted products.
Sometimes I design myself experimenting with measurements and textures. I love to see how they bring it to life beautifully.
The ceramic line is a collaboration with a friend. Lately, I have been designing furniture and little by little I would like to start developing more furniture and products with my design. In the future, I would like to create product lines without seasons and this way keep a business that is sustainable over time and beneficial for the environment, for my artisans, and me as well.
What part of being in the Myth community would you look forward most to?
Myth brings me value. It connects me with someone else and with something with a bigger meaning and impact, instead of being alone with a project, I get to know people who contribute ideas with strong values.
I found Myth just as I was ready to look for something or someone to connect, grow and expand. It is a shortcut to find synergies with someone who is on the same journey as I am.
Finally, 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 would tell myself that I am going to achieve everything I dreamed of and that it will take time. Also, to stop judging myself so much, understanding that all the previous experiments were not mistakes, they were part of the path.
In the past, I started many different projects but I ended up abandoning them and I ended up judging myself a lot for that. Now I don’t judge, I just think that it was an amazing learning and instead of looking at them as unfulfilled dreams, I see them as learning and connections that took me where I am today.
Now I’m not afraid of quitting anymore because Amanatura is not something external, it’s me connected with my purpose. I accept myself and I move onwards by following my ideas and inspiration.