When we first sought to make our garments, we never thought we'd be able to scale in a way that allowed us to produce quality products with integrity in the process. Until we found our artisan partners in Peru.
Peru is the knitting capital of the world, so it's no wonder we first looked to Peru when we started on this journey. But Peru offered us so much more than expert knitters. Peruvians cherish the land and the resources it provides and Peruvians are natural innovators.
Our artisan partners showed us what is possible with our vision. Together, we figured out how to scale quality hand-knit garments (including hand-dyed wool) and handmade shoes in a responsible, ethical way that everyone can feel good about.
Together with our knitting partners, we've figured out a way to scale hand crafted knits responsibly and respectfully. Because of our reverence for traditional, handmade things, expertly handknit garments were the original vision for Misha & Puff.
Our knitting partners are our lifeblood. They handle the day-to-day operations on the ground in Peru by working closely with their knitting leaders. The knitting leaders operate as small businesses and manage their own groups of knitters. We refer to these groups of knitters as knitting cooperatives, and they exist all over Lima, Arequipa, and beyond.
Empowering women, strengthening communities.
The knitting cooperatives provide reliable jobs and steady income for a segment of the Peru population that has often been overlooked and marginalized for a variety of reasons.
When talking about labor in Peru, you might hear the terms "formality" and "informality."
This is a complex topic that we encourage you to read more about. The short of it goes like this: Informal employment lacks social protections and clean working conditions, among other things. The move to "formality" ensures workers have better protections. But like any change, it takes time.
The knitters set their own payment terms with their knitting leaders. The knitters in the cooperatives also decide how much work they take on. Collaborating with their knitting leaders, they negotiate payment terms based on what goes into knitting and assembling a garment.
Every pattern is different. When we come up with a new design at Misha & Puff, the knitting leader and their knitters assigned to the design will produce a sample and quote a price.
How much time goes into making a garment helps us determine the final cost. (But many other factors contribute to the final cost besides the actual knitting – there's the material itself, the hand-dyeing, the quality control process, and so forth.)
Our garments today often incorporate a bunch of techniques from start to finish – and some of our knitted garments might use a combination of techniques such as hand-knitting, manual knitting machines, and industrial knitting machines.
The knitting collaboratives that we work with do a combination of knitting by hand, manual machine, and industrial machine. It’s because of this combination of techniques and flexibility that knitting in Peru is so special. We also have a textile partner in Arequipa that has a machine knitting factory in addition to knitting collaboratives.
*Our Arequipa knitting partner has GOTS and Fair Trade certifications.