Company Name: Illa Magic
Specialty: Alpaca fabrics
Technique: Domestic knitting machine, hand knitting/weaving.
Place: El Alto, Bolivia.
Type of business: Sole proprietor: Rebeca and her husband. They have more than 20 employees during the busy season with five working year round.
Products for Caserita.com: Working with us since 2013. They make accessories like scarves, gloves, wristbands, caps.
- Their professionalism: she learned to work with alpaca wool at her mother's knee
- Their commitment to the issue of social responsibility
- Their knowledge of the European market.
How they work: Rebeca is in charge of product quality control and knits, and her husband is in charge of the technical specifications and designs.
How Illa Magic Got Started
Rebeca met me with her little daughter at their home in El Alto where her workshop is located. She immediately began to tell me about her history, showing me photos of her town, her alpacas and her workers.
For Rebeca it all started when she was a little girl. She lived in a village called Sajama, at about 4500 meters above sea level on the border with Chile. She learned to knit with alpaca wool as a girl. Her parents raise llamas and alpacas and are partners of the huge wool cooperative called "Coproca" (the main supplier of high quality industrial alpaca yarns). Rebeca and her seven brothers spun the wool sheared from their animals by hand, sold it to Chileans who found it less expensive than it was in Chile. It is not possible to grow fruits or vegetables at that altitude; her parents only had camelid livestock, and the children had to support the family. (Today Rebeca has her own herd of twenty alpacas that her parents raise. Every year she goes back to her town to collect the wool and meet the small demand for handspun organic wool.)
Slowly, Rebeca developed her skill at knitting and learned how to use a knitting machine. At first, she worked for other companies or workshops until she met her husband a little over six years ago.
Rebeca's husband has been working on alpaca wool garments for twenty-six years. He began knitting when he was fifteen years old to help his family. Then he received training and worked a few years for Eza, an Austrian company working with the concept of fair trade. That's where he got to know the European market. He trained with a German designer who taught him to make technical specifications adapted to European sizing and design tastes.
Founding of Illa Magic
By combing their knowledge, they found the strength and motivation to open their own company: Rebeca with her knowledge of alpaca wool, suppliers and knitting techniques, and her husband with his knowledge of the European market and his skill at designing and innovating.
The company is named “Illa Magic”: Illa means amulet in the Aymara language, which is the symbol of the company (they include a lovely miniature of the amulet with each product).
They also opened a shop on the Bolivian commercial, tourist street in La Paz called Sagarnaga where they developed and made a name for themselves. Thanks to this shop, they found customers from Europe.
This couple's strength lies in their flexibility: the customer sends them technical specifications and they respond to this demand very professionally.
That is why we are very pleased to have discovered Rebeca who has committed to deliver high quality products that meet our and our customers' demands.
In addition to the quality of Rebeca and her husband's products, they are committed to the issue of social responsibility.
At Illa Magic, the workers are independent. They receive a fair salary for their production. These people work overall for several workshops and thus they can organize their work as it's convenient to them. In addition, Rebeca offers daycare service to her employees so the mothers can work without worrying about their children. Since Rebeca worked for many years as an employee, she knows that it is important to offer her employees benefits.
The plus of this company is that they allow disabled people to work with them. Rebeca tells us that she wanted to hire more people with limitations to give them a chance for income, but for now, sadly, she can only hire more able people. In the near future, she hopes to be able to hire them and help them improve their quality of life.
Caserita.com is proud to be able to cooperate with Illa Magic, a small business with a great vision and social commitment.