Snuggle Up with Fair Trade
Our bestselling blankets from Minga Imports are perfect for football season, picnics in the park, or cozying up at home. Crafted by Ecuadorian couple Hector Patricio Lema Vega & Estela Arias, the soft, cozy blankets are woven from acrylic yarn.
At just seven years old, when Hector’s arms were finally long enough to reach the heddle of the loom, his father taught him the art of weaving. The family knitted ponchos, sweaters, and jackets, but soon realized that selling clothing within the fashion industry was not a sufficient way to make a living. Styles would go out of fashion and they would have back stock of products that were unable to sell.
Hector began weaving blankets in 2002. He made 20 at first, just to see if they would sell – and they did. He made 50 and sold out again. At this time he was the only local artisan offering blankets on the market. As competitors entered the market with lower quality blankets at a lower cost, Hector was forced to lower his prices; however, Hector never lowered his quality for his customers. Working night and day, Hector’s top priority is customer satisfaction.
Combining the colored yarns takes a full day, as the artisans spin the yarn into a carefully designed pattern onto a 7-foot by 6-foot spool. Once the warp has been spun, it is placed onto an electric loom to be woven into cloth. The cloth goes through a brushing machine to soften and tighten the fibers, creating the unique warming effect. Finally, the edges are stitched to prevent unraveling and the blankets are ironed. This process creates 70 blankets at a time.
At first, Hector made products from Alpaca wool, but switched to acrylic based on customer preference for the warmth and softness. Hector and his wife create blankets, baby blankets, and scarves that are exported from Ecuador to be sold in the fair trade market.
By selling their crafts through the fair trade market, Hector and Estela are able to provide for their children, Stalin and Amalí. They have been able to buy their own land, and now dream of building a small house for their children to have a permanent home, rather than moving from house to house. Hector and Estela aspire to widen their range of products to make themselves more relevant throughout the market. To them, success is retaining clients and receiving steady orders to grow their business and provide for their family.