Rebecca Braak, founder of EcuaFina came to Ecuador while traveling the world. After some time spent in this incredible country, she fell in love with it, its people, culture, and handcrafts. So, she felt inspired by all the traditions and abilities of Ecuadorian artisans and started working with them. Then, EcuaFina was born under the values of fair-trade & directly sourced, while having the best quality of wool products, such as blankets, ponchos, and other products from across the Country.
For all of our wool products, we work with artisans from the community of Otavalo. A small town two hours away from the capital Quito. This is one of the cities with the more indigenous population in the country, therefore here, some of the ancient traditions are still alive, while others have been updated a little bit, but are still part of their identity and culture. The handicrafts here are their way of living with small agriculture for local consumption. The otavaleños are dyers, weavers, embroiders, buyers sellers, and distributors of their products.
Weaving is a tradition that has been present in Otavalo before the Spaniard conquest. The people here used to weave sitting on a woven reed mat on the floor, with their feet pressed against a log to pull the tension on a backstop loom taut. But after the conquest, the Spaniards brought new technology, and weaving changed for them making it more comfortable. It still is a whole handmade process that luckily for us has been kept alive until now. And because of that, and our love for traditions, we believe transparency is a key point in handmade products. That is why we like to share the whole process, starting with who makes a product and how they do it. Because when you shop one of our items you’re supporting the artisans and their skills.
In Otavalo, there is the biggest indigenous market in South America -the Plaza of Ponchos-. Where more or less 100 artisans sell their products. It’s amazing to go there and walk through all the colorful stands and people and see their skills put into something material. Most of the things are handmade and depending on the technique, they take several months to be made especially when talking about textiles, because they make the whole process, from selling and cleaning the wool, then carding, spinning, dyeing, and then weaving the ponchos, carpets, blankets, scarfs, fabrics.
One interesting thing to understand about fabrics, and textiles here is that are part of their identity as an indigenous community. So, in ancient times every color used on clothing represented something, and also they used symbology on them. Talking about colors, for example, red represents the vitality of people, and their blood, blue would be water, green is about the blooming of nature, white is the light of day, and black on the other hand is night but also sadness and deep feelings of the heart, then yellow is gold, pure energy, the divine, and richness. Also, clothes and fabric items were used with a purpose. At festivities, they dress up in their most beautiful clothes and they express something through them. Different feelings, like gratitude to mother earth for a harvest, or maybe sadness because a loved one died. So, of course, we at Ecuafina want to preserve the vibrant and cheerful colors of our designs. And since they are handmade they’re unique and every one of them has a personal touch.
We have the best quality of soft alpaca wool, that is going to keep you warm during winter, and thanks to our colorful designs they’ll give a pinch of color to one's house. Believe it or not, this type of wool is softer than cashmere, and warmer than sheep’s wool, repellent to water and dirt. Also is hypoallergenic and they don’t sting. Since most of our products contain at least 70% we recommend not washing them but letting them air out. By letting allowing the wool to air all unpleasant odors will disappear, but if you have to wash them. Do this, use cold water, gentle or wool cycle, and neutral pH detergent. Don’t think about hanging them or the dryer! Squeeze as much water as possible, and dry flat over a drying rack.
We know that you'll fall in love of Ecuafina blankets once you've touched them. And by the way it looks in your home.