Year of Birth: Daniel 1978, Marlena 1982
Home: Carabuela, Otavalo, Imbabura Province, Ecuador
Started Working With Minga: 2012
Product: Children’s Sweaters
Daniel and his wife Marlena were married in 1999 and have 3 daughters: Nina was born in 2002, Patricia was born in 2002, and Maoly was born in 2010. Daniel and his wife work in the development of kid’s sweaters. In a day they can make an average of 10 sweaters.
Their story with Minga started in 2012 when a different kid’s sweater maker working for Minga had gone out of business. Minga was searching for a new artisan in Carabuela, a small sweater-making village and after being referred to their family, the rest is history.
They live in a modest home made of concrete block with very little furniture and they keep everything in very clean condition despite their workshop being right in their home.
Marlena learned from her parents to make sweaters when she was five. Her whole family is established in this craft. She learned how to do the whole process, knitting and dyeing, although now she purchases the yarn ready-made from factories in Tungurahua Province, dyed to the color she orders. The yarn used to make Minga kid’s sweaters are 50% cotton and 50% wool.
Daniel and Marlena are such hard workers, when asked what their favorite part of the work is, the answer was that they liked to work day and night! They design sweaters from original drawings and the couple love this design work. When they have a lull in orders they help their parents or other families complete orders from other clients and vice versa. Parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters all pitch in to help each other.
Plain sweaters of course are much easier and faster to produce and sweaters with many details are harder to make and take a longer amount of time to design and complete. Many nuances go into creating original designs – they put a lot of love and pride into their work. Every sweater is made stitch by stich by hand.
Some of the challenges Daniel and Marlena face in their line of work is difficulty in buying materials for orders and finding exact yarn colors from their yarn providers. There is a lot of back and forth with the factory on these topics.
Their future aspirations are to increase their business and their work to help their daughters finish their studies and care for their needs.