Did you know that many brands in the fashion industry don't want anything to do with the word "handmade" because of the difficulty with scaling? Add in other elements to the mix—like hand-dyed yarn—and plenty of folks thought we were out of our minds when we first started. (At moments, we did, too.)
It hasn't always been easy. In fact, it's still hard at times. (Especially during a pandemic.)
Let's back up. Why'd we decide to do something so HARD?
This goes back to our reverence for traditional, handmade things. Expertly handknit garments were the original vision for Misha & Puff. To truly honor the knitting tradition, we knew we had to go to the knitting capital of the world: Peru.
Did you know some Peruvian textile artifacts date back 6000+ years? The Peruvian people have been expert artisans not simply for centuries, but for millennia. You could say knitting is in their blood, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Family members pass on the skills and tricks of the trade, one stitch at a time. So, to us, Peru was the obvious choice for production, provided we could do it in a responsible way.
How could we scale handknit garments fairly and responsibly in Peru?
We wanted to make sure that everything we did adhered to Fair Trade principles. If we only celebrated the craft, but overlooked the artisans making the craft, we knew we would have failed. Good intentions weren't enough.
We knew that who we partnered with in Peru would matter. We wanted to work with artisan partners who shared our values and ethos—reverence for the craft, respect for the crafts people, and respect for the environment.
Luckily, we found them.
Our knitting partners in Lima and Arequipa have built strong textile businesses that produce quality knitwear in a responsible manner.
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. (Think of knitting leaders like subcontractors.)
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. Our partners are careful about the knitting leaders they work with. They work with leaders who understand their responsibilities, like following Peruvian labor laws and paying appropriate taxes.
As you can see, this is very much a business based on relationships and trust. We've built strong relationships with trusted knitting partners in Peru. They, in turn, have built relationships with the knitting leaders they trust. We trust each other to do good, and to do the right things.
Ours isn't a long-distance romance, either. Our team has visited Peru many times and will continue to do so. We love meeting with our partners and the talented artisans who bring our designs to life.