To say that INTI Knitwear founders Anna Cales and Leon van den Broek ‘have a thing for Ecuador’ is quite an understatement. 25 years ago, the two went there as backpackers, and now they still spend half of each year in Otavola to support their team of about 700 Ecuadorian knitters and weavers – some of whom have been working for INTI for over 20 years. These women are completely free to plan their workload themselves.
INTI Knitwear items are handmade with respect for people and planet, created from high-quality materials such as merino and baby alpaca wool (a small amount of which each knitter gets to keep for her personal use). The brand puts its leftover wool to good use, making scarves, hats, baby ponchos and baby vests out of it. This way, nothing goes to waste.
The Dutch founders are closely involved in the entire process, from the design to dyeing (which is done by a family company) and packaging of the finished products (by local workers). The stores where INTI items end up share the brand’s philosophy, just like the other companies INTI works for. For instance, the label manufactures wool blankets for Katja Schuurman’s Return to Sender project, which wants to stimulate entrepreneurship in developing countries through sustainable trade and job creation.