Competition Leads to Quality

Meet the Maker series, about the indigenous crafters we know and pay fairly

Indigenous artisans Santhy and Nelly, with Los Andes Shop owners Debbie & Benoit Berho, seated in a garden

Santhy and Nelly, pictured above with Los Andes Shop owners Debbie & Benoit Berho, are from a long line of textile crafters. 

Los Andes Shop owner Debbie Berho seated facing Segundo Arrellano, in a small shop with shelves stacked with colorful hoodies

Here, Santhy’s dad Segundo Arrellano recounts his early years.  “I would work all day long to make a wool poncho on the backstrap loom, and would receive only 1 sucre (about 15 US cents) for it.”

Like many young men from his region, Santhy left Ecuador and went abroad to sell textiles, landing in Spain and France for several years.  His time abroad expanded his artistic horizons and fiercened his entrepreneurial spirit.  When he returned to Ecuador, he saw thousands of the same items, some of them of poor quality, in the markets of Otavalo. As he set out to continue the tradition of textile production in at atmosphere of stiff competition, he determined to create UNIQUE designs of the highest QUALITY.

Thus his business, “Made Better in Peguche” was born.  Peguche is a small town near the more famous city of Otavalo. Many Peguche residents create textiles and leather goods in their home workshops. His business name emphasizes 2 key differences – the quality and source – of his products.

Santhy designed hoodies with unusual sleeves – in geometric patterns that give a nod to the historic native designs of the Otavalo people.  

He commissioned the fabric, and set up shop in his house to cut, print or embroider, and sew the actual hoodies.  His wife Nelly quality-tested each type of fabric – washing and drying it and discarding any that shrunk or were otherwise inferior. 

Santhy’s design flair and demand for quality caught on.  Soon he had orders from all over the world (including Los Andes Shop).  His wife Nelly complained to Debbie that the entire house had been taken over by the business – but she was staunchly defending the kitchen space so that they could eat! Notice the bags spilling over onto their front porch below.

Santhy and Nelly’s drive, hard work, and creativity, to create something BETTER than what was generally available in Otavalo, have paid off.  Recently, they were able to build a new workshop, with plenty of space for embroidery and sublimation equipment, cutting and sewing processes, as well as a space for display.

We honor their accomplishments, and are happy to stock their UNIQUE, QUALITY hoodies at Los Andes Shop. Our products are made by indigenous crafters that we know and pay fairly.

Shop Santhy & Nelly’s Hoodies (click on image)

Categorized in: Berho Bros, LLC, dba Los Andes Shop