ECUADOR

SUMAK MUYU Women’s Group. La Calera, Ecuador

Sumak Muyu, which means “Good Seed” in the indigenous language of Quichua, is run by a small group of women in the Andean village of La Calera, Ecuador. Using sustainably harvested palm nuts- tagua, acai, pambil, and coco these artisans craft beautiful, handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that can brighten up any look. But as striking as their jewelry is, the story behind it is even more impressive.

La Calera, the home of our beloved Sumak Muyu friends, is a quaint indigenous village of about 2,000 people sandwiched between two imposing volcanoes – ‘Mama’ (Mother) Cotacachi and ‘Tayta’ (Father) Imbabura in the northern Ecuadorian highlands. As one of many indigenous communities situated on the fringes of the historic town of Cotacachi, La Calera has a vibrant culture in which pre-colonial, nature-centered religious values continue to thrive despite the presence of strong foreign influences. These values can be observed most clearly in festivities during the summer solstice, when the entire area becomes the site of South America’s second largest celebration- Inti Raymi, the Incan sun festival. While La Calera was once known for its prosperous limestone mines, today there are very few economic opportunities for its residents, largely as a result of centuries of anti-indigenous discrimination and other social factors.

With few economic opportunities in La Calera and specific social barriers for women, the artisans started Sumak Muyu as a way to gain “economic independence,” or in other words, the chance to use their own skills, on their own terms, for their own ends. Sumak Muyu established their jewelry microenterprise in 2011, when they connected with UW-Madison faculty and students participating in a global health field course. The women discussed a need to generate income for their families and community. Through the collaboration, Sumak Muyu developed a product line, identified multiple clients locally and abroad, and worked on their quality and design. Sales of their jewelry now generates much needed income. Sumak Muyu believes that creating jewelry together, they not only earn income for education, healthcare, and a better quality of life for their families and community, but also provide space for ongoing friendship and solidarity as women.

As an added benefit, Sumak Muyu is proud to contribute to the greater community of La Calera. When possible, they donate a portion of their proceeds to purchase school supplies for children from families with scarce resources and lead other community development projects.

When you make a purchase from Sumak Muyu, you are contributing to a sustainable, socially conscious enterprise with one grand mission: to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow.

SUMAK MUYU Women’s Group. La Calera, Ecuador

Sumak Muyu, which means “Good Seed” in the indigenous language of Quichua, is run by a small group of women in the Andean village of La Calera, Ecuador. Using sustainably harvested palm nuts- tagua, acai, pambil, and coco these artisans craft beautiful, handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that can brighten up any look. But as striking as their jewelry is, the story behind it is even more impressive.

La Calera, the home of our beloved Sumak Muyu friends, is a quaint indigenous village of about 2,000 people sandwiched between two imposing volcanoes – ‘Mama’ (Mother) Cotacachi and ‘Tayta’ (Father) Imbabura in the northern Ecuadorian highlands. As one of many indigenous communities situated on the fringes of the historic town of Cotacachi, La Calera has a vibrant culture in which pre-colonial, nature-centered religious values continue to thrive despite the presence of strong foreign influences. These values can be observed most clearly in festivities during the summer solstice, when the entire area becomes the site of South America’s second largest celebration- Inti Raymi, the Incan sun festival. While La Calera was once known for its prosperous limestone mines, today there are very few economic opportunities for its residents, largely as a result of centuries of anti-indigenous discrimination and other social factors.

With few economic opportunities in La Calera and specific social barriers for women, the artisans started Sumak Muyu as a way to gain “economic independence,” or in other words, the chance to use their own skills, on their own terms, for their own ends. Sumak Muyu established their jewelry microenterprise in 2011, when they connected with UW-Madison faculty and students participating in a global health field course. The women discussed a need to generate income for their families and community. Through the collaboration, Sumak Muyu developed a product line, identified multiple clients locally and abroad, and worked on their quality and design. Sales of their jewelry now generates much needed income. Sumak Muyu believes that creating jewelry together, they not only earn income for education, healthcare, and a better quality of life for their families and community, but also provide space for ongoing friendship and solidarity as women.

As an added benefit, Sumak Muyu is proud to contribute to the greater community of La Calera. When possible, they donate a portion of their proceeds to purchase school supplies for children from families with scarce resources and lead other community development projects.

When you make a purchase from Sumak Muyu, you are contributing to a sustainable, socially conscious enterprise with one grand mission: to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow.

PREVIOUS PARTNERSHIPS

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Handcrafted lemon pinon soap.

Using a traditional recipe handed down from their grandmothers, this women’s group handcrafts natural soap made from oil extracted from the Piñón plant (Jathropa curcus). Piñón is an important crop in all of Ecuador. The extract is used for everything from cooking cakes and meats to fuel as a biocombustible. The group manages a piñon tree farm of approximately 2000 plants which provides the oil to make their beautiful soaps.

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