More Than a Business

What makes a piece from Huaywasi so special? Former Huaywasi fashion designer, Mariel Rico (pictured below), takes us behind the scenes on the process creation of one of our Spring/Summer 2018 favorites, the Mariel Skirt, and also shares some insights about Huaywasi and fair trade that she has learned along the way.

 Mariel tells us she was inspired by a skirt created by a Bohemian fashion designer, whom she reached out to and was given the designer’s blessing to use the design as a base for the Mariel skirt. Her goal was a Bohemian festival look with the floor length slitted skirt, combined with a touch of Peruvian flair using an Andean fabric patch on the side. 

What makes the creation of the Mariel Skirt unique??

Mariel told us that this skirt was special as it was one of her first samples she owned while interning with Huaywasi. She created the pattern herself, and wrote step-by-step instructions in Spanish to bring both the pattern and the skirt to life. But what truly gives the skirt unique meaning to her was the communication and trust built between herself and our artisan, Guillermina.


“Fair trade should always be collaborative between the designer and artisan—and the artisan should feel she has a safe place to speak her mind.”

Instead of simply giving Guillermina a picture of what she wanted the skirt to look like and waiting for her to create a sample, Mariel worked together with her using her written instructions and traveling to the artisan’s home 2-3 times a week to create various samples of the skirt and ensure the finalized piece was exactly what both had envisioned. This inspired confidence in Guillermina to voice her opinion and ideas on design, as well as helped Mariel learn new sewing and construction techniques, many of which were passed down to the artisans through mothers, grandmothers, and influential women in the community.



What was the most significant take-away from interning with Huaywasi??

As Mariel was describing her time spent with the artisans living in the Huaycán community, a common theme kept emerging. 

“Women have this inherent connection despite all cultural differences.”

Memories that Mariel cherish most are those spent with the artisans talking and laughing about normal everyday topics. Whether they were all traveling together to Gamarra (the largest clothing and textile market in Peru), or spending time in the artisans’ homes, the bond created between the designers and artisans went further than a business partnership, they were family. This sense of community and togetherness built by women empowering women is what continues to drive Huaywasi forward today!

Written By: Jill Schneider

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