Those of us who know something of the history of Salinas in Bolívar province know that the ground floor of the house of Father Antonio Polo, also known as the Convent, was the laboratory for the experiments. Many of the things that were tested there are now representative community businesses.
Due to the location and the conditions of the soil, not everyone could join the livestock and milk and cheese production that little by little were establishing themselves in Salinas. Other support alternatives had to be found for the peasants in the highlands or in the páramo, most of whom had one or two little lambs. Something had to be done.
Thus, in 1974, large cement tanks were set up in the Convent for washing wool, where it was common to see women with their bare feet stepping on the wool in the cold water with detergent. As you will understand, the temperature of the water at 3,500 meters is not wonderful, but I remember the women happy to be part of this new dream.
Who would have thought that the first steps of two community businesses that are still active to this day would take place in those walls: the TEXAL Salinas Artisan Social Development Association and the Salinas Intercommunal Spinnery.
Initially the idea was to buy sheep's wool from farmers in the high communities of the Salinas parish to wash it and sell it at a better price. This initiative was unsuccessful.
They tried another way, they bought hand-spun wool to make rustic-type blankets that were sold in the national market. Volunteers from that time trained several women from the town.
Later, they buy front looms that were handled by 5 young people from the town, thus converting the ground floor of the Convent into a weaving workshop and store. They improved the quality of the products when they began to work with yarn purchased in the city of Ambato. With these results they decide to go a little further, and analyze options to produce their own yarn.
Textiles Salinerito, proudly Ecuadorian
The search for external support and the community's own contribution begins. Projects are proposed and the results come from the hands of NGOs and friendly people. The sheds begin to be built...
Despite the skepticism that a project of this magnitude would work in a town, where the peasant would go from working the land and animals to operating machines and learning to manage. But nothing can beat trust and faith.
With all these threads moving in the environment, other opportunities are woven, TEXAL is strengthened in the parish center and women from various communities form Women's Centers, thus creating their own meeting space and an alternative to have their own income
With the community organization as a base, the women began to make hand-woven garments, the same ones that were initially exported to Italy, where good friends of Father Antonio Polo sold them in solidarity fairs. With the passing of time and improving quality, they began to export to fair trade chains.
Meanwhile, in the nascent spinning mill, machinery is installed, tests are carried out, technicians arrive to train local people and the adventure of machine spinning begins.
From natural colored sheep yarns, it is passed to alpaca and llama yarns dyed with natural products and procedures, thus providing variety and better options for women to add color and creativity to their designs.
The Salinas Spinnery, located in a small town in the Ecuadorian Andes, became the largest factory in Bolívar province, with 60 people in its work team, including workers, technicians, administrators and salesmen who worked in three shifts, the 24 hours and 7 days a week.
Despite the economic crises and crises in the textile sector that were and are frequent in the country, the factory continues to function, and currently maintains links with peasant and indigenous organizations that collect sheep wool in the provinces of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua and Chimborazo. .
The threads and garments made by hand with the Salinerito brand continue to weave hope and shelter for many people.
Discover in our store online the wide variety of Salinerito products.