Their workshop is a walled garden on the outskirts of a provincial city in Bolivia. The garden is full of fruit trees: bananas, mangoes, papayas, avocados. There are palm trees, a pool, dogs, small children running around. Interspersed with that are various small warehouses, knitting rooms and women calmly at work, often outside in the fresh air. It’s peaceful, green and paradisiacal: by far the most beautiful workplace of all our suppliers. Jester and Nicole live in this garden, as do their parents.
Owned by . . . . Jester and Nicole Location . . . . . Bolivia
Craft . . . Alpaca Textile Design and Production
Years of relationship . . . 3 Founded in . . . 1980's
Super power . . . . . . . . . .Tranquility
One of my old suppliers had retired, and as an excuse to visit him I decided I would check some other suppliers in that city. To my surprise, I liked what I saw.
Like most South American textile businesses, Asarti involves two generations.
Initially, the company was started in the 1980’s by a Dutchman who came to live in Bolivia, fell in love, and needed to make a living. They couple started a sweater company and ran it for many years. Their daughter went to Holland to study fashion design, met a Dutchman, fell in love, and they repeated the entire process by moving back to Bolivia to take over the company. I have little doubt that one of their two small daughters will one day go to Europe, meet a Dutchman and … well, you know.
Things we talked about on the last trip: Mountaineering and snowboarding.
Kindergarten in Bolivia. How they designed their house. How Nicole prepared the lunch they served us.
When you’re running a global export business in the hinterlands of a landlocked third-world country, you have to be pretty self-sufficient. Some yarn is Bolivian, some must be imported from Peru, and once on site, they often combine yarns to get unique colors and textures only available from their company. Bureaucracy is quicksand, and costs are very high. Nicole does all the design, and they specialize in extremely complicated asymmetrical patterns which are difficult to knit and gorgeously unique. They are a very special company with a tiny production.