Handmade bags from Ekiitaya — saying ‘no’ to fast fashion


Handmade bags from Ekiitaya — saying ‘no’ to fast fashion

5 reasons to buy handmade: How Ekiitaya, a start-up working with indigenous weavers in Colombia, is making a stand against fast fashion with its unique handcrafted bags

Ekiitaya (ekiitaya.com) is a small company that produces beautiful handmade bags with the help of indigenous weavers in La Guajira, Colombia.

Its CEO, Ana Lázaro, is passionate about driving ethical and environmental change, especially in an industry that’s been dominated for too long by fast, throwaway fashion.

She says that while protesters demanding change for more eco-friendly and ethical practices are having an effect across the industry, there is nonetheless a major role to play for small, family-owned and community-based businesses.

“Even small actions, ranging from re-using rainwater to hydrate the garden, planting our own spices, buying our clothes or accessories from establishments that promote the slow-fashion movement — together all these efforts can positively impact our environment,” she tells Be Kind.

It is one of the main reasons why Ekiitaya was founded, a company that designs handmade bags providing work in support of an ancient indigenous community located in the northernmost part of South America.

It’s an area known as the Wayúu, home to an indigenous American ethnic group of the Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and northwest Venezuela.

This newly-established enterprise is breaking the mould by extolling the benefits of wearing handbags that have a durability that exceeds any expectations compared to a standard tote bag.

Ekiitaya model
Ekiitaya natural bag

5 reasons to buy handmade

From her experiences at Ekiitaya, and in helping to drive positive change in the fashion industry, BeKind asked Lázaro to name five key benefits for buying handmade bags derived from ethical and planet-kind practices:

Environmentally friendly

When we think about eco-friendly, we might be only thinking about the materials that have been used or in the actual making of the product — but this term covers a wider spectrum. Items that are handmade take less energy and natural resources to produce than items made on a mass assembly line. Many of the items mass-produced are manufactured overseas which may require: (a) long-distance shipping to get to the consumer, and (b) a waste in materials that might not be re-usable. Since handmade items aren’t produced in large quantities, buyers can rest assured that there’s a good usage of the resources being employed.

Better for the economy

Buying handmade products can also create jobs and strengthen the economy. Handmade goods are typically created by small businesses — and small business growth is good for everyone. Studies have shown that shifting even just 10% of consumer spending in any given industry to locally-owned businesses would create hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in local wages.

Preservation and dissemination of ancient arts

Another great benefit is that you will be contributing to the preservation of the culture and heritage of local communities. Sometimes big brands take advantage of these ancestral pieces by using their design to create items for their collections. It is imperative that we can credit the actual crafters — and you can only do that by buying it from the source.

A piece of culture in your home

A handmade piece is a relic that, due to its beauty and longevity, can be passed from generation to generation. This will not only beautify and brighten a space in your home or your outfit, but it will also transport you to that world where the communities live. It is a piece that will allow you to talk about the culture you visited, the community you supported, or the heritage you contributed to with your purchase.

Unique pieces are difficult to replicate

Thanks to its handmade process, each piece will be unique as it is not easy to be reproduced. One thing that we love saying here at Ekiitaya is: “In the imperfections, lays the beauty.”

Ekiitaya row of bags

Purchases you can feel good about

Knowing that your money is going to a local company that creates products with integrity is invaluable to consumers, Lázaro adds.

“At Ekiitaya we make every mochila (bag) respecting local heritage and co-working with the indigenous people. Our work includes supporting the education and other needs of these communities. We also identify with other companies that are in touch with local communities and who make products that are responsible to our planet.”

Ekiitaya contributes greatly to a non-profit organization, she adds.

“The company is working hard to promote buying handmade — one bag at a time — as well as pioneering in other ways too, with longer-term ambitions for the future.”

And, rest assured, these will be kind to indigenous communities, our planet and a fairer, more sustainable world for all.

To get the Ekiitaya vibe find them on Instagram: @ekiitaya

Or head straight to the online store at: ekiitaya.com

Ekiitaya model
Ekiitaya hand weaving
Ekiitaya bag