Maki is a fair trade certified organisation working to preserve the artisanal wealth of indigenous women in Ecuador. The organisation also provides economic and social advancement opportunities for local artisans living in remote rural communities, turning each artisan into a Maki shareholder.
Maki means “Hands” in Kichwa (or Quechua), the local indigenous language. Our work celebrates hundreds of years of tradition, culture and symbolism of indigenous peoples and cultures of Ecuador. Our production techniques are considered “Cultural Heritage of Humanity”, such as the Weaving of the Toquilla Straw Hat or the IKAT Technique used for scarves production.
Learn more about the IKAT Scarves
“Macana” is a Kichwa (or Quechua) word that means shawl or scarf and is part of the typical female clothing in Cuenca. The defining characteristic of the IKAT manufacturing process is the dyeing of the fabric patterns before the weaving. For the warm colours, the weaver uses plant dyes, available in native Andean plants or insects. The entire process is arduous. It takes more than three days for an experienced artisan to produce a single piece.
The IKAT technique is ancient and has been transmitted from generation to generation for centuries. It preserves the identity and culture of the local Ecuadorian communities.
How are the Panama hats made?
Female Artisans in Cuenca have been practising the art of weaving toquilla straws for hundreds of years. Hat weaving has been an essential artisanal activity on the Ecuadorian coast since the 1600s. In 2012, their hat weaving techniques were added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Toquilla Straw comes from a palm tree native to the Ecuadorian coast. Once the straw is harvested and gathered, it is then prepared to be woven into an intricate, braid-like texture.
The weaving of a toquilla straw hat begins with the matching. The artisans cut the ends of the straws to ensure they are in the same size. Then they proceed to split each straw, obtaining super fine strands.
After splitting, the artisans proceed to the weaving. Highly skilled artisans take up to eight hours to weave a single hat. Every toquilla strand is woven meticulously and tightly to make sure the hat becomes both breathable and long-lasting.
Once the weaving and finishing is completed, the artisan washes the hat alternating warm water and cold water. After this, to give the finished hat the correct shape, the artisan strikes it on a template with a wooden mallet. The weaving process ends with ironing, to smooth the fabric.