To be a woman is to know how to weave. - Wayuu Proverb
Our new line of Wayuu bags and mochilas are here! You can click here to shop and see photos.
We're working as fast as possible to get them online, so keep checking back throughout the week for updates. The bags are already starting to sell out so I recommend you act fast if your heart is set on something. 95% of the bags are a one-of-a-kind and we won't get them again.
I've been familiar with the Wayuu mochilas for a long time and have often thought about offering them, but I didn't truly consider it until two years ago when I went to the region where they're made, La Guajira, for a weekend trip.
It's a quick 90 minute nonstop flight from Bogotá, but despite the "short" flight it feels like it might as well be worlds away from the big capital city.
Side Note: Wayuu mochila is the proper term for the crossbody bucket bag made by the indigenous Wayuu community- more about that below. Also, Wayuu is pronounced WHY-YEW.
The landscape of La Guajira reminds me of the Serengeti. It's dry, desolate and a large number of its inhabitants are indigenous Wayuu who live in huts. It's a bit shocking after a short flight from Bogotá, a cosmopolitan city of 8+ million that boasts spinning studios, hipster bars and Uber.
It wasn't until that trip that I realized how completely radical it is that women in that type of a stark, homogeneous environment create such brilliantly colored and designed bags. Nearly all of the indigenous Wayuu don't have electricity or running water, let alone Pinterest. Their ability to mix/match colors and patterns to create a perfect-looking mochila is astounding. Even more so that each back takes 20-30 days to make, on average.
It's jarring but also incredibly beautiful and inspiring.
Since that point in time I've been to La Guajira several times, with the intent to meet Wayuu artisan women, see where they live, understand their culture and start to build relationships.
For me, that is the most important part of my job. I want to shake the hands of the women who make the bags I'm selling to you.
I've since partnered with a couple different communities and hope to continue to support more going into 2016.
Our handbag line is a mix of Azulina-designed bags (like the short totes and pom pom mochila totes) and one-of-a-kind traditional mochilas that I hand-picked during one of my recent trips. I buy whatever I think is beautiful.
When I contribute to the design process I always keep something traditional about the bag, whether it be the shape or the geometric pattern. There are 15+ traditional Wayuu patterns, all of which have names and tell stories.
The color combinations usually differ depending on where they're made. In the north, Alta Guajira, a region that is constantly in a drought, the bags have more Earth tones. In the southern part of the peninsula, where there is more greenery (although it's still very dry), the bags tend to be more bright and colorful. From time to time I'll see some hot pink bags coming from the North and it just tickles me... Sorry. Had to do it.
The bags are crocheted and take between 15 - 35 days for one woman to make. Our large totes take 30+ days to crochet, the traditional mochila takes about 20-25 days and the smaller totes take around 15-20 days. These all fall into the category of "single-thread" mochilas, as seen above. We'll carry some "double-thread" mochilas if I think they're beautiful and I know where they come from - the only difference being they crochet with 2 threads for each color instead of one, taking less time to create the mochila and is technically less "fine", but frankly, I think it is ALL excruciatingly difficult and beautiful work.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No?
I can't wait to share more going forward about our work with these communities, the women who crochet our bags and the culture of the matriarchal Wayuu community.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me and helping us provide ongoing economic support to these communities in La Guajira, Colombia. Between you and me, I think we can make a valuable difference in our artisan partners' lives.
Con Mucho Amor,