Our handicrafts are not only beautiful and unusual, but they also tell a story of success for the people of Otavalo. (Debbie cannot resist explaining this because, after all, she has a degree in Latin American History. 🙂 )
The Spaniards forced many native Ecuadorians to work in “obrajes”, a colonial version of a textiles sweatshop. According to historians, they were paid the equivalent of $5 per month, were whipped frequently and suffered other inhumane treatment. The wool and cotton fabric they produced was used by Spaniards all over their empire for hundreds of years.
After Independence from Spain, the Ecuadorian people were able to use the skills they had acquired in this industry for their own benefit. They now own all the means of production. Some continue to carry on traditional methods, such as “backstrap weaving.”
Others have modernized and use computerized looms.
When you purchase an item from Los Andes Shop, you are supporting the small business textile artisans of Otavalo – we buy from them directly, and have been working with several for over 15 years.