Copy of Our Story

FOUNDER 

Lisbeth Carolina Arias


Born in El Salvador and raised in North Carolina, Lisbeth Carolina Arias has woven her story as an immigrant of the United States into a clothing brand that is cherished by those who are proud of their heritage. As a young girl growing up in rural NC, fashion design served as the first outlet that didn't have a language barrier. It was one she and her mother, a highly-skilled seamstress, could finally cross together.  Arias studied Fashion and Textile Design at North Carolina State University, interned in community led organizations in Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, and Italy, and worked for several fashion studios, including Vera Wang, in New York City all before starting Descalza. Her love for people, especially those who humbled her, have inspired her to create a fashion label where hidden talent wouldn't go unnoticed and her community would be heard.

ARTISAN BIOGRAPHIES

Artisan: Don Manuel

Organization: Colores del Pueblo

Country: Guatemala

Manuel and his family live in Nahuala, Guatemala where he was born and raised.  He learned to weave when he was 11 years old. Both of his parents were weavers and they worked on the foot loom as he does now.  He weaves fabrics by the yard and is very adept at producing fabrics with an ikat design. He showed us how the different designs, including the ikats, are produced.  It is a very complex process, from the preparing of the raw threads and the binding of them so that the dye resists the threads where desired. The entire process, even before the loom can be prepared may take up to 2 weeks and then the weaving can begin.

Manuel's family also helps in the weaving.  Some of the older women in the family also use the back-strap loom. He mentioned that it is much harder to find weavers adept at the foot loom now as many are seeking jobs elsewhere.  We hope that through the fair trade process, that Manuel, his family, and workers will want to continue weaving as they are making a fair and just wage.  

Artisan: Don Manuel de Jesus

Organization: La Casa de los Gigantes

Country: Nahuala, Guatemala

Manuel de Jesus, his family, and the entire village just outside of Nahuala have been weaving for generations. They weave not only as a source of income but to maintain the traditions in their culture. Don Manuel’s family all speak Quiche, their native language. La Casa de los Gigantes met Don Manuel’s daughter many years ago when she was looking for a job. At those times she had to quit school since her family wasn’t able to afford the bus fare. Things changed once La Casa was able to provide work for Don Manuel. His daughter was able to finish school and works now as a teacher. His son also works as a teacher and hopes to one day travel and explore the world.

Artisan: Jose Humberto Tobar (Don Chepe) y Daniel Augusto Moran

Organization: Diconte Axul

Country: Ataco, El Salvador

Diconte meaning, disenos contemporaneos de textiles (contemporary textile design) was founded by Carmen Pineda Fagioli, a graduate from the university Matias Delgado in El Salvador in Artisan Textile Design. Fagioli began Diconte in order to rescue a dying skill set that once was recognized in El Salvador but was slowly diminishing since the massacre of 30,000 indigenous people (La Matanza) in the 1930s.  The patterns have been designed by Fagioli since 1983 but were elaborated and are woven by Jose Humberto Tobar (Don Chepe) and his assistant, Daniel Agusto Moran. Moran, 21 years old, has about three years of weaving with Diconte and continues to learn under the supervision of Don Chepe. Don Chepe our oldest artisan, has over 50 years of weaving experience and has devoted his time to teaching the youth to preserve the traditional weaving through practice and experience.

MANUFACTURERS

Opportunity Threads

Location: Morganton, North Carolina

Opportunity Threads is a worker-owned, cut and sew textile plant based in the foothills of Western North Carolina. We focus on sustainable production for entrepreneurs and mid-sized companies.

 

Brown & Church Neckwear

Location: Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

Brown and Church Important Neckwear was established in 1976 by Sam Brown and Bill Church as a classic neckwear collection for the better men’s specialty store.   Our connection to the neckwear industry however, dates back much further, and is more diverse. Our company includes yApre’ Cravats, a collection created by Herbert Bergheim in the late 1930’s that connected with a much more flamboyant customer, and Keys & Lockwood, a classic American neckwear collection established in 1881. Few companies in any industry have the diverse heritage and longevity that we do.  Our heart is in our history, while our minds are focused on the future.

Our manufacturing facility was relocated from Manhattan, NY, to Sam’s home town of Pilot Mountain, NC in 1980. Known for its history in textile and apparel manufacturing, this region is seeing a revitalization of consumer interest in “Made in America” products and heritage brands. Our commitment has been and continues to be, maintaining the heritage of our brands and products, but also to excel in an industry that has struggled. We have not only survived but thrived by steadfastly adhering to quality, while investing properly in technology, to better serve our customers.

TS Designs

Location: Burlington, North Carolina

Founded in 1977, TS Designs began as a small, manual screen printing operation. It only took a few years for the company to become fully automated, printing shirts for big brands like Nike, Tommy, Polo, GAP, etc. However, after the 1993 implementation of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), TS Designs watched as customer after customer transitioned accounts to Mexico in order to take advantage of lower costs.

Instead of calling it quits, like many of their colleagues in the manufacturing industry, CEO Tom Sineath (retired in 2015) and president Eric Henry turned to fellow business owner and longtime friend Sam Moore for a new direction. Sam introduced Tom and Eric to the triple-bottom-line business model focused on three equally important bottom lines: People, the Planet, and Profits.

Armed with their new business model and a healthy amount of crazy, Tom and Eric sought to align themselves with, and cater to, a then-fringe group: The Green Movement. It was a period of steady progression, exciting new developments and lessons learned as the company leaders continually pushed the boundaries on what was possible in printing technology and what it meant to source from local supply chains.

Today, TS Designs still sells largely to local, environmentally and socially-conscious businesses and organizations that make up The Green Movement, but also prints for any organization looking for a locally-made, better quality product with a better environmental and social impact. Eric Henry, CEO and President, continues with a spirit of innovation as the company expands its line of in-house apparel brands.

Doña Descalza of Sanford

Doña Descalza of Sanford

Sanford, NC

After our Kickstarter collection in 2017 we experienced difficulty with our manufacturers in North Carolina. They’re in such high demand and unfortunately aren’t always able to cater to young startups like us. Therefore, we went to founder’s hometown, Sanford, to work with women who have the experience and passion to sew.  Like many towns in NC, Sanford was known as a textile town; however, the jobs left but the people stayed. Now these women (the majority from Latin America) sew Descalza.