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11.11.09

History

Interview with owners of GIRASOL company
Wolfgang Blaum, Gerhard Engelmann & Camilla Wurm
Ola: When did the Girasol company start?
Wolfgang: We started to import handwoven textiles and handicraft to Germany in 1983 after extensive travelling in Central America and Mexico.Ola:What kind of handicraft did you carry in the beginning?
Camilla:Of course, we carried the very popular rebozos in our program: the traditional shawls, used as protection against the cold or the strong sun and/or to carry goods and babies.
Ola:Could you tell us a little bit more about rebozos?
Camilla:These colourful textiles, woven in plain (canvas) weave, are about 70 cm wide, carry stripes in Ikat and usually come with fringes. The length of the traditional rebozos varies, but its seldom longer than 1.80 m.
Ola:When did you start selling baby carriers?
Gerhard:We imported these rebozos and sold them as Ikat shawls, but they were sporadically used to carry babies in the cradle or for toddlers in the hipseat.
With a minor, but constant demand for baby carriers we started to commission rebozos in certain sizes around the mid 80-ies, providing different length from 1.80 m up to 2.40 m.
Ola:Who are the people you work with?
Gerhard:They are Maya Indians from the highlands of Guatemala
Ola:Could tell us about the weavers?
Gerhard:In that time, we worked with the family business of Carlos Xuruc Tzoc from Totonicapan. Carlos later quit weaving and went into politics.
We cooperated then already with the family business of Pedro Alba, from Sta. Lucia Utatlan, but at that times he just wove fabric and belts for us. Since approx. 1992 Pedro Alba weaves solely for Girasol, two of his sons, who are in their 20-ies are weavers as well.
Ola:What are the weaving techniques they use?
Gerhard:The textiles are woven with the treadle weaving chair, which was introduced by the Spanish. Girasol abandoned the traditional canvas weft for denim and later for twill weft, following the demand of our clients.
Ola:What kind of cotton do you use?
Camilla:We use 100% cotton from traditional cultivation, since there is no organic cotton available in Guatemala.
Ola:What about colour dyes?
Camilla:The cotton is dyed in a workshop in Quetzaltenengo Guatemala, which itself is a foreign aid project, supporting and training native micro entrepreneurs in Guatemala. The utilised colours are in accordance with European safety and environment standards.
Ola:Did you try any other raw materials for weaving?
Gerhard:We experimented briefly with (sheep) wool, but were not satisfied with the results.
Ola:Do you import traditional baby carriers from other countries also?
Wolfgang:Around the year 2001, we explored the possibility to obtain customised Mexican rebozos (the original ones are too short for our customers ), but learned, that they are mostly machine-woven. So we produce wraps solely in Guatemala.
Ola:How did you come up with the idea of weaving Girasol Exclusive wraps?
Gerhard:The whole idea to enable our clients to create an own design, which started around 2003, goes back to proposals from the clients themselves. First, there were just wishes to have wraps in undyed cotton, or in a solid color, this developed into the idea/wish of a customised design.
Ola:Who launched the first Girasol Exclusive wrap?
Gerhard:We are quite sure, that the honor of initiating this process is due to "Mapekka" from Finland.
Ola:What are your plans for the nearest future?
Camilla:At present we are developing lkat designs for the Girasol wraps and
we will start to produce a Girasol Mei Tai in the nearest future.

Ola: Thank you very much for the interview!

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