Earlier this week, I launched three Inca Colors fair trade knitwear products. My first customer was my sister. Thanks, sis!
She asked me about the process of developing these products with the fair trade organization, so I thought I'd share here.
First, I designed and knit the samples for both hats while I was in the undergraduate art program at UCSD. The yarn I used wasn't the best, so I found a high grade alpaca (100% baby alpaca) from Peru, but I had a hard time getting in touch with the supplier, so I was unable to buy it.
I then decided to have the hats made because I needed time to do all the odds and ends that go into the business, like bookkeeping, graphics, emails, social media, accounting, website updates, packaging, sourcing, meeting with bankers/lawyers/SBA etc. I decided I was either going with a certified fair trade artisan organization so I could make sure the knitters were getting paid a living wage.
I contacted the fair trade org to see if they could make my prototypes. I needed to be able to get the same size/quality yarn in just the right hues of every color of the rainbow and I wanted it to be 100% natural/eco-friendly materials, so that took about a year. It was worth it! They were able to get the really nice baby alpaca yarn from the company in Peru I liked. Some hues provided by the yarn company were just what I was looking for. Other colors were made with customized plant dyes.
Then we developed samples with the new yarn (which has different measurements from the prototypes I made, so they had to be redesigned). When the knitters were done making the sample, the org would ship it to me, I would let them know if I thought something should be adjusted, then they would make a new sample with the adjustments, etc. until one was perfect. From there, the inventory was handknit by the talented artisans in Peru.
It's been a long road, so I'm happy to finally be able to share these products with you! I'm also looking forward to sharing more designs soon!