While small family businesses are increasingly rare in apparel making, this one, run by husband and wife team Javier and Elsa, even further stands apart. Javier and Elsa come from Cajamarca, Peru's Dairyland (kindred spirits to us Wisconsinites). They grow their own organic cotton, run their own small-batch sewing factory in Lima, and serve as a hub for dozens of tiny knitting cooperatives who would struggle to get their products to market without Javier's and Elsa's assistance.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. His farm, near Ica, is situated in a region ideal for growing the world’s best cotton – Pima cotton and its close cousin more ideal for sweaters - Tanguis. His non-GMO cotton is GOTS-certified organic so it doesn’t contain any pesticides or other harmful chemicals. The farm uses only natural irrigation techniques and grows quinoa in the off-season.
From the farm the cotton is spun into yarns and color is added with Oeko-tex certified earth-friendly dyes.
The yarn then makes its way to the tiny workshop in Lima where high tech equipment works in tandem with incredibly skilled artisans. The ditigal knitting machines, imported from Germany, knit each panel (front of sweater, sleeve, cuff, etc.). Percy does all of the upfront knit planning - programming the machines to knit the panels to the exact product specifications.Then skilled artisans painstakingly knit the panels together (sleeve to body, cuff to sleeve, etc.). It's a process that would test even the most patient among us, but which these fine folks take well deserved pride in.The sweaters then make their way back to Javier and Elsa's main factory in Lima where they are carefully measured and inspected to adhere to high quality standards that the enterprise has developed over its many years in business.Daniel and the packing team are the final stop before the clothing makes its journey north. This is the only area where we Fair Indigans feel like we can jump in and "help" the team, which we often do as it's so satisfying to see the fruits of everyone's labor. Go team!