Armadillo Stores is a fair trade enterprise seeking to bring positive change to both the Kichwa artisans who handcraft clothing and accessories in remote regions of Ecuador, as well as to clients around the world interested in connecting with and creating social progress for the Kichwa people. Our goal is to preserve a culture and crafting technique that is in danger of disappearing.
We work directly with the weavers, ensuring they are fairly compensated for their work. We have a program of improving quality of weavings and designs, and hardly work on replicating designs that are close to becoming extinct.
In Ecuadorian culture, Shigras have historically been used by women in the mountains or jungle to carry food or seeds into their fields. It is a tradition to go into the cemetery on the day of someone's death carrying Shigras with food as an offering to their ancestors.
Our weavers live under poverty levels—some live without electricity and smoke their food over fire inside their straw huts at 4500 meters of altitude. They are happy and have great ethnic values carried from generation to generation.
The cabuya is a plant that grows in Ecuador. It's also known by the names penco, fique, or agave. The material that comes from this plant is long and tedious to process, but it's worth it because the end result is soft and beautiful. It must be hit to the ground, rotted for days in water, washed, shredded, boiled and colored, dried, and finally woven with a small needle. The weaving is the longest part of the process and can take up to 16 weeks!
This is where creativity comes into game.