The story of aiayu can only be fully unfolded by including the story of Bolivia and the skilled handknitting community that we have been so priviliged to get to know and work with intensively over the years.
Respectful relationships is the foundation of aiayu. Our suppliers are our partners, and many of them have been with aiayu since the beginning. Our partners are rarities in an industry where exploitation is the norm, and they provide fair wages, good working conditions, and stable jobs to their communities.
We have been working with our Bolivian production partner continuously for the last 18 years, and it is one of the most important relationships to us. Our partner makes hand finished, machine knit items and highly artisanal, entirely handknit products from top-quality llama fiber sourced locally. Not only are these knits beautiful, durable, and timeless – their production supports Bolivia’s growing textile economy, the country’s long tradition of handknit craftsmanship, and traditional, small-scale llama producers.
Marcelina is a part of the handknitting community we proudly work with in Bolivia: At 68 years old, she has been knitting for aiayu for 18 years, embellishing her work with the initials ‘MQ’- for Marcelina Quispe. Marcelina is Aymara – the indigenous people of the Bolivian highlands. She was born in La Paz, and is a single mother of one child. When she isn’t knitting for aiayu, she sells fresh fruit and vegetables at her stand at the local market.
The word ‘aiayu’ stems from the Aymara language and translates to spirit or soul. The brand was named as a tribute to the women in Bolivia, who put their heart and soul into making our garments. All our handknitted llama products carry their spirit and traditional craftsmanship – elements that are the heart of aiayu, and that we are always aiming to support and preserve.