AYNI Interview

10 minutes with Adriana and Laerke

We sit down with the founders, Adriana and Laerke, of the International Peruvian Sustainable Brand to discuss the challenges of sustainability in business.

AYNI´s desire to become leader in slow and an example to the rest of the fashion and apparel industry by showing how ethics and aesthetics can be together. They encourages to be a more conscious lifestyle and consumption. Ayni was created out of a common love for high quality products, nature’s finest materials and strong social, economic and environmental engagement. The products are handcrafted in Peru, using only the most exclusive Peruvian materials such as the luxurious baby alpaca and the famous pima cotton.

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How does Ayni distinguish itself?

AYNI means today for you, tomorrow for me and is dedicated to the creating of beautiful high quality garments made exclusively from the Peruvian primary materials such as Alpaca and Pima cotton. For example, the alpaca has 22 natural shades and does not have to go through a chemical process. The Alpaca with its sharp teeth cuts the pastures instead of tearing it like most cattle do and does not create negative impact for its natural habitats and surroundings.

Also, our production is handmade and we use only manual knitting techniques and manually driven machines, in other words less use of water, electricity, etc reducing the CO2 footprint to a minimum.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the fashion industry faces? Do you think the fashion industry as a whole are making more strides towards ethics and sustainability?

With the increase of fast fashion brands we have seen more accessibility for people to wear fashion, but fashion doesn’t mean quality and sustainability. For years, the fashion industry has faced the increase of more fashion brands, and as a consequence materials from which the clothes are made of have been overvalued, because the consumer has been used to buy quantity and not quality. But nowadays we believe that the new consumer, the modern and independent women which is our main target will value quality and the story behind the product over other factors. A product which its story behind involves a sustainable chain of production, hundred of empowered women from the Andes of Peru who have the opportunity to work using ancient techniques that they have inherited from their families. 

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Why did you choose the baby alpaca and pima cotton for your pieces? 

Using Peruvian materials such as Alpaca and Pima cotton have less environmental impact compared to products made from import of raw material. Furthermore, these materials originated from Peru, are recognized worldwide for their quality and benefits and only to be found in Peru. 

Internationally the positioning and promotion of the alpaca fiber and its benefits brings recognition to the Peruvian garment industry and sets an example to the world on how the fashion industry in Peru contributes to a sustainable development.

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What is the biggest challenge for Ayni? 

To be a sustainable brand is a great challenge and enormous responsibility. It has taken us more than 10 years to establish a responsible supply chain management and strong relations to our knitters. We work with more than 300 families. We say families instead of workers as most of our knitters work from home, where they raise their families while they produce our products. The Company evaluates, educates, certifies and promotes Peruvian craftsmanship and culture.

You are working on a certified project to support the Peruvian women. Can you tell us a bit about that? 

Locally our responsible supply chain management contributes to the empowerment of women, protection of cultural heritage and creating of job opportunities for the vulnerable population in Peru. Using the fibers of Peruvian origin adds value to the production chain and generate competitive advantages for the industry as a whole.

In 2012, AYNI CERTIFY became the first and leading Certifying Centre enabled by the Ministry of Employment (Ministerio de Trabajo y Promocion del Empleo) to certify individuals in labor competencies within the field of Hand Knitting since 2012. Today, around 1800 have been benefitiated by this program. 

The certification is intended to evaluate and determine the labor competence of an individual in the proper exercise of its function.The evaluation results allow obtaining an employability plan that includes the results of the evaluation and serves as a parameter for the evaluating unit and the ministry of employment, which illuminates the part of the program where there is room for improvement and where it might me necessary to create capacitation programs.

The certification guides and advises those assessed with respect to existing gaps in performance and which requires training and / or higher labor practice. Finally the certification gives recognition and value to the individuals labor competences and identifies demography of specialization areas and contributes to the empowerment and self esteem of the individual.

Any charities or social actions you are involved in and why are they close to your heart?

AYNI is paying the knitters 2,5-3 times the salary compared to the fair trade standards put forth by the WTO. Trough the certification center, AYNI gives official recognition the the knitters and encourages to specialization and improved technical qualifications, which creates competitive advantages and at the same time empowering the most vulnerable part of population; primarily single mothers who support their family.

Finally, what does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability means being part of the fashion industry creating value and not compromising the environment in which we will continue developing. Also, it means to share this message and communicate it to the world, to be an example that fashion and sustainable can go along together and involve fair trade. That our main vision and mission is to impact in good way.