by Elizabeth Nicholls, Marketing & Communications Intern

We are very excited to welcome Kate Mitchell, the next head designer for Awamaki!

Kate moved to Peru from New York City with nearly thirty years of experience in textile design, spinning, and weaving, as well as a recently acquired Associate’s Degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Despite her impressive résumé, Kate is the first to admit that she has as much to learn as she has to offer. “I think that what I need to do is look at what’s selling and look at what our market wants. I’ve only been here for three weeks, so I don’t want to jump in and say that I know what’s best or change things.”

Nevertheless, Kate’s creative juices are already flowing. “I have been knitting up a bunch of samples of different kinds of lace products and different weights of yarn and sort of a finer alpaca yarn to do a really fine lace scarf or shawl sort of thing.” Kate also plans on sitting down with the women in Awamaki’s cooperatives to observe their knitting strengths and ensure that the textiles the cooperatives are producing are thoroughly taking advantage of the women’s skills.

Whether the products are knit, woven, or sewn, what really gets Kate talking are the ways in which Awamaki’s products differ from the thousands of textiles she has worked with in her thirty-year career. “They’re made by people who are making it for themselves—to do it themselves—and I think that’s a huge difference between going to a factory and working for an hourly wage so that you can just barely make it. These products are made by people who are weaving and designing and making things anyway, and we’re just finding a market for them so that they can make a living from it. And I think that that’s the huge difference—that’s what makes us different from other places—is that the women are empowered and it’s their work and their product.”

During her time with us, Kate has a lot on her plate! She will be working to develop an introductory line of wholesale yarns that are alpaca, handspun, naturally-dyed and fair trade–the first of their kind available in the U.S. market. She is also working with the seamstresses to improve the quality of their work, and with the knitters to expand their range of best-selling adult women’s knit accessories. We are very excited to welcome Kate to Awamaki, and we look forward to telling you more about the new products that she helps us develop!