A new life for Gabriel and Irma

Posted on February 01 2020

A new life for Gabriel and Irma


While small family businesses are almost unheard of in toy manufacturing, this one, run by Javier and Elsa, stands apart. Their business grows its own organic cotton, runs its own small-batch sewing factory in Lima, and serves as a central hub for dozens of tiny knitting cooperatives who would never get their hand knit products to market without their expertise, assistance, and passion for helping others who need it most.

Ethically made stuffed animals

These tiny knitting cooperatives are the birth places for The Joobles – our organic stuffed animals. We like to refer to Javier and Elsa as Los Abuelos de Los Joobles – The Grandparents of The Joobles.

Javier and Huggy

Javier is a farmer at heart. His passion for organic cotton began decades ago when he learned that a staggering 25% of the world’s insecticide is used on cotton, which occupies only 2% of the farmland.

Owing to the harsh winter climate in the highlands, Peru has an abundance of incredibly skilled (and very patient! – see videos below) sweater knitters. But too often these skills don’t translate into jobs or sustainable incomes.

Javier and Elsa are changing that for dozens of such knitters. Elsa scouts for and hires the artisans, trains them in areas like logistics, inventory management, and quality control, and coordinates production and exportation to Fair Indigo.

Fair trade knitters

Artisans like Irma and Gabriel proudly knit our Huggy the Bear. Prior to being hired by Elsa, the couple lived in a shantytown outside of Lima where they had come from the countryside ten years earlier in search of a better life.

The better life didn’t come easily, but since being hired by Elsa, they have upgraded their home two times and now live in a brick house in a neighborhood where both of their children can attend public school – something Irma said was her ultimate dream. She, nor Gabriel were never able to attend school in their village.

The Joobles are finished, inspected, packed, and shipped from Elsa and Javier’s workshop in Lima. Below is “smile maker” Maria with her favorite Jooble – Jiffy the Giraffe.

With all this goodness, it’s no wonder the Joobles bring pure joy to everyone who meets them. Every time your little one squeezes their favorite organic stuffed animal, you can smile knowing you've made a huge difference in the world.

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