What began as a Kickstarter Descalza, meaning barefoot in Spanish, continues to serves as a reminder that no matter how far we move forward we never forget where we come from, and who is still at home.
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-focused brands 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.
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.ORGANIZATION: DICONTE AXUL
Hacienda los Nacimientos began in 1995 with the vision to develop and explore the natural resources and agro-industrial processes of El Salvador. Today they are one of the two organic indigo farms in the world. Rhina de Rehmann, owner of la Hacienda is dedicated to not only creating substainable tropical agriculture, but providing employment opportunties to local Salvadorians. Once the main producer of indigo in Latin America, El Salvador lost much of its resources due to the civil war. La Hacienda is making its mission to bring the title back but with a sustainable impact.ORGANIZATION: HACIENDA DE LOS NACIMIENTOS
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.ORGANIZATION: CASA DE LOS GIGANTES
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.ORGANIZATION: COLORES DEL PUEBLO
During our trip to Perú in 2021, we were in search of the artisan women. We were fortunate to run into an artisan market where we met the women from La Asociacion Laraipas Indigenas de Amaru.
We met Sandra during our trip to Cuscó, Perú in 2021. When we came across her store, we were immediately welcomed with kindness. She was very open to explaining the fabrics she carries and taught us what the patterns represented. With what she makes selling these fabrics she's not only able to care for her family, but also share her passion for textiles with the world.Vendor: Aguayos Cusco Perú
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 the 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.
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. 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.Read More
Opportunity Threads is a worker-owned, cut and sew textile plant based in the foothills of Western North Carolina. They focus on sustainable production for entrepreneurs and mid-sized companies. They are the leading pioneers of bringing textiles back to North Carolina, but their approach is quite unique. Everyone in their plant is hired with the expecation to become a worker-owner. Meaning that the success of the business is a success for the workers and their families. With most of their workers being Mayan immigrants its no shock they're perfectly suited to work with the fabrics that hold their heritage as well.Read More