Armadillo Stores is a fair trade and ethical enterprise seeking to bring positive change to both the Kichwa artisans who handcraft clothing and accessories in remote regions of Ecuador, as well as to clients around the world interested in connecting with and creating social progress for the Kichwa people.Through this connection, Armadillo Stores aims to preserve a culture and crafting technique in danger of disappearing.
These handwoven products have an intricate technique that is passed down from generation to generation, and its production, from sourcing the raw material to weaving the finest natural handbags, is completely local and sustainable The ancestral tradition of weaving shigras is near extinction because the weaving process is very difficult, time consuming, and not fairly compensated.
We work directly with the weavers and make sure they are fairly compensated. We have a program of improving quality of weavings and designs, and hardly work on replicating designs that are close to becoming extinct.
Shigras have been historically used by women in the mountains or jungle to carry food or seeds into the fields. It is a tradition to go into the cemetery on the day of the death carrying shigras with food.
The material comes from the cabuya plant, also known as fique, penco, or agave but the specific variety of this plant is only found in Ecuador. The crafting process is long and tedious, as the material must be hit to the ground, rotted for days in water, washed, shredded, boiled and colored, dried, and finally woven with a small needle. The weaving is the longest part of the process and can take up to 16 weeks and this is where creativity comes into game.
Our weavers live under poverty levels, some live without electricity and smoke their food over fire inside their straw huts at 4.500 meters of altitude. They are happy and have great ethnic values carried from generation to generation.