KusiKuy Clothing Company is so much more than its name implies. KusiKuy was founded in 1997 by Tamara Stenn, a Peace Corps Volunteer who was inspired by the idea of fair trade and what it meant for local indigenous populations.
KusiKuy specializes in warm alpaca yarn from Bolivia. All of their yarns are hand spun and made from the fibers of the alpaca which remote, nomadic communities tend. Their company is culturally sensitive and respects the culture and ceremony of the animals that these communities keep.
They sell a wide range of weights of the yarn, which is a strong, durable fiber, perfect for the Bolivian climate and indigenous to the area. It comes in over 25 different natural colors, perfect for accessories and socks. KusiKuy does not sell their yarn to yarn stores, and instead caters to the home crafter and small business crafter. Many socks and hats are created from their yarn.
The communities with which they work are in the most remote parts of the country. The Kayawalla are one such community and are nomadic part of the year then settle for the other part to raise the alpaca. KusiKuy has helped create economic opportunities for the Kayawalla and they have seen wonderful results.
The women mostly spin the yarn while the men herd and tend the animals. The economics have become such a good incentive for them that more often than not, the children of the spinners and herders are coming back to help with the spinning or administration of the market and women have become leaders within their communities, in part because of the skills they have acquired through working with KusiKuy.
Along with their assortment of hand spun alpaca, KusiKuy also sells hand knit alpaca items, including a plethora of sweaters and accessories. You can even learn more about the knitters right on their site, which showcases the various knitting groups.
Tamara Sternn, always wanted to be an ethical company from the begining and treat people with respect. It’s a situation in which “everybody wins.” She said.
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[Image credit: KusiKuy]