When I met Janina Santillan, founder of ethical fashion brand Aduzad for a tea in the heart of Greenwich Village, I didn’t know what to expect. I had been following Adzuad on instagram for months, but social media only gives you a snapshot into the essence behind a brand. I knew I loved the gorgeous product, but had a desire to go deeper. There was an authenticity that came through in the images that I wanted to know more about. I was super excited that Janina felt the same way about Your Soul Style and we decided to meet-up.
Janina didn’t have to say much before I took note of the passion she holds for her Ecuadorian and Incan roots. It shined through immediately, and was clear she had a strong, intense and ingrained connection to her heritage. What I had noticed in her instagram gallery precisely aligned with the woman behind the brand. Azudad, the name derived from Janina’s grandmothers’ and godmother, is a combination of the last two letters of their first names: PiedAD, LUZ and FelicidaAD. The brand was founded in 2012 in an effort to honor the indigenous craftsmanship of the artisans in the Otavalo, Ecuador region, which Janina has been visiting since childhood. Aduzad is her way of giving back to a country that has always made her feel at home. It is also her way of paying hommage to her grandmother and godmother to make sure a piece of them will always continue to live on. The collection includes items such as travel bags, small pouches, blankets and tapestries, all derived from locally sourced textiles. Each piece is handmade with the highest level of quality, care and love, and through the production of Aduzad goods, the local artisans are able to obtain an income which provides them with the basic necessities for their families. Aduzad practices responsible consumerism, fair trade and ethical fashion laws, and in a world where merchandise is becoming mass produced and disconnected from meaning, Adzuad is helping to sustain these incredible traditions, honor an artisanal craft and stimulate the economy of her heritage community.
For Your Soul Style readers only, Aduzad is offering to GIVEAWAY one of their amazing pursil travel bags! With the holidays creeping up just around the corner, enter to win this perfect weekend getaway bag for your upcoming holiday visits to friends and family! The rules are simple…
- Follow @yoursoulstyle + @aduzad on Instagram & Facebook.
- Regram our photo(s) from the giveaway post on Instagram or share this post on Facebook, tagging in 3 new friends + @yoursoulstyle & @aduzad, using the hashtag #stylefromtheinsideout.
If you don’t have Instagram or Facebook….
- Leave your name and e-mail address in the comment section of this post.
A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday night, November 23rd at 5pm (EST)! Good luck!
Now a bit more from Janina…..
YOUR SOUL STYLE: Can you tell me a little bit about how Aduzad came about? When was it founded?
ADUZAD: I started Aduzad after one of my annual trips to Ecuador back in 2011. I come from an Ecuadorian background and have been traveling to Ecuador since I was a child. It was really important to my parents that my sister and I visit the country as much as we could to familiarize ourselves with our culture. In 2011 I bought back a travel bag that I was using all the time. My friends started asking me where I got it from because they wanted one just like it. Strangers would also stop me on the street or on the subway asking me the same question. From there I just saw a great opportunity and I knew had to do something. Aduzad was officially founded in 2012.
YSS: What can consumers expect to find in the Aduzad collection(s)?
ADUZAD: Great handmade quality items. Extremely unique designs and also one of a kind pieces. Some of them include travel bags, handbags, blankets, tapestries and backpacks.
YSS: How would you describe the Aduzad aesthetic?
ADUZAD: A contemporary twist of the Ecuadorian lifestyle meets the Western culture.
YSS: Who is the Aduzad consumer?
ADUZAD: The traveler, the dreamer, the person who wants unique pieces that they can incorporate into their everyday. They are also lovers of rich patterns and colors who don’t mind sticking out from the group.
YSS: What makes Aduzad different from other ethical and socially responsible brands?
ADUZAD: We are the only company right now doing what we do that is based solely in Ecuador and I think that in itself makes us different. Being a native Spanish speaker has allowed us to work directly with the artisans that make our products. This makes it very easy for us to remedy any customer concerns or quality issues.
YSS: Who/What inspires you?
ADUZAD: Our name is a combination of the last two letters of my grandmother’s names Piedad and Luz along with my godmother Feliciad. I named it after them because their lives are an inspiration to me. They were such strong women and taught so much about life and the values I should have for myself.
YSS: What inspires the Aduzad collections?
ADUZAD: The Ecuadorian community and the people of Brooklyn really inspire our collections. Every year when I travel to Ecuador there is always something different and new that I love. The artisans are constantly coming up with new and innovative designs. I love mixing that with the style I see from my friends and the people around me where I live.
YSS: What countries do you currently work with? What countries do you plan on working with in the future?
ADUZAD: We only work with Ecuador at the moment and I don’t see it extending from there. Our business is based around the love and admiration for the Ecuadorian artisans so we want to keep it as close to that as we can.
YSS: Tell me about some of the positive impacts Aduzad has made on the indigenous Ecuadorian people, culture and the environment? Do you have a specific story to share?
ADUZAD: Our handmade tapestries come from a family called the Cordovas. They are located right outside of Otavalo in an indigenous community. Years ago weaving and tapestries were the bread and butter of this family’s income. Unfortunately in recent years the demand for these pieces has gone down.
The Otavalo market also has a very strict policy with its vendors. The market place is where a lot of the indigenous people make their money but not everyone can sell there. What ends up happening is that the tapestries and weavings that the Cordovas make, they have to sell to other artisans who can sell in the Otavalo market, at prices that are unable to sustain their family.
This is where Aduzad steps in. We buy directly from the Cordovas at prices they think are fair for the quality of their products. With that income they are then able to support their families. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with them in their home, there we got to see first hand just how much of an impact Aduzad can have and it truly was one of the most incredible feelings.
YSS: Why is a brand like Aduzad important for the growth of sustainable businesses?
ADUZAD: Because it shows that there is a demand for ethical, fair-trade, quality products. We are fortunate enough to live in a society where there is more awareness on how products are being made.
YSS: Who are some of your favorite socially responsible designers & brands?
ADUZAD: I love Hiptipico and everything that they stand for. I think what they’re doing for the artisans out in Guatemala is really special and inspiring. I also love brands like, Follow the Folk, Maven Collection, The Little Market, IX Sandals, and Mipacha shoes, just to name a few!
YSS: Who would be your dream collaborator? What stores/sites would you like to see Aduzad sold on?
ADUZAD: Mara Hoffman is one of the first names that comes to mind. It would really be a dream to work and collaborate with her. As far as stores and sites go I would love to sell Aduzad in small boutiques with a similar style and vibe to us for example People of 2morrow in Greenpoint. I would also love to work with stores like Anthropolgie or Calypso.
YSS: How would you describe your own style?
ADUZAD: I love wearing simple pieces and accessorizing them with bold patterns. For example a simple white blouse with jeans but then pairing it with one of our suede handbags and an Ecuadorian felt hat for some color.
YSS: How does your own style influence Aduzad?
ADUZAD: Every single one of our pieces is something that I would love to wear. My family always says I’m a walking ad for Aduzad. I always feel like I grew up in two very different places, Ecuador and the U.S and my style is a combination of both. Aduzad embodies truly everything that I am.
YSS: What is your favorite piece in the collection?
ADUZAD: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite piece but I do love the new coin purse collection. I actually designed those myself along with Miguel who is an artisan. He mainly works with leather and together we combined that with some textile pieces. We are actually in the works of designing new travel bags together so I’m really excited about that.
YSS: Where do you see the brand in the next 5-10 years?
ADUZAD: I hope to see Aduzad still expanding and coming up with innovative designs and ideas. A little over a year ago we started with only travel bags and pouches and now we’ve gone into house & home with our blankets, tapestries and tablecloths. I’m really proud of that because I’ve always envisioned Aduzad as a lifestyle brand.
YSS: How does someone get involved?
ADUZAD: We are open to collaborations and suggestions with people and companies that are also looking to make a difference and that want to spread awareness on ethical consumerism. You can visit our website or e-mail us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another way to get involved is by traveling to Ecuador and to experience the country first hand. I am constantly telling people to go visit and vacation there. Tourism is great for the country. For my sister and I traveling there at such a young age really impacted who we are today. She’s a nurse and is going to Otavalo, Ecuador next year to volunteer her services to the indigenous communities. My dad always said that in order to truly understand people you have to experience how other cultures live. That saying is something that I always refer back to.
YSS: What is the ultimate goal for Aduzad?
ADUZAD: The ultimate goal would be to bring back the high demand for Ecuadorian products. Our artisans talk about this golden age where they were able to support their families on their crafts alone. I would love to bring that back to the indigenous communities and to share all of our beautiful products on a global scale.
And don’t forget to participate in the giveaway to win an Aduzad pursil travel bag! Details above!