About Yanantin Alpaca
My name is Eveline. A lost-and-found world-traveller, modernday-hippie who lives with her boyfriend Jack and Yin the Peruvian-street-cat-turned-princess, in Tallinn, Estonia, “home-for-now”.
My story began in 2006, when I fell in love with Latin America for the first time. Of course, that happened on a sunny Caribbean island: a place hard not to fall in love with…
In 2009, I started my bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language & Culture at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Focussing on Latin American and Caribbean literature, my love for the continent grew. After obtaining my degree, I decided to go back. I spent seven months in Peru, volunteering with a local NGO.
Back home in the Netherlands, I started my master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Eager to learn more, I couldn’t resist the call to go back only four months after having started my studies. I went to Bolivia for four months to conduct fieldwork.
Overwhelmed by the beauty of both the people and nature of Bolivia, I was now completely sold on the mysteries of Latin America. I went back home for two months to complete my thesis on female empowerment and syncretism. Then, I went to Costa Rica for an internship, and back to Peru in 2015. With only a backpack and a burning desire to discover more…
The years of travelling that followed were filled with experience and personal growth back and forth between Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. It was also the time that inspired creating Yanantin. Throughout those years I had maintained contact with a beautiful family in Bolivia and I wanted to help them create a better world for themselves and their loved ones.
I met Nona and her family back in 2014. They made me feel that I was, and still am, part of their family. Few times have I met people that have been so warm and welcoming. While still, like many others, they are trapped in the harsh reality of Bolivia with little hope of change.
Together, we came up with a plan, a plan that would allow Nona, the grandmother of the family, to look after her grandchildren, while working a flexible job to gain an extra income to provide for them.
The months before leaving Latin America in 2018 were dedicated to starting up Yanantin Alpaca. I bought knitting machines, went to knitting courses and brought kilos of alpaca yarn to El Alto, Bolivia. Nona and I worked together until we found the perfect design for a beautiful, knitted scarf.
Confident, I left Latin America after six years. I registered Yanantin as a business and with that, Yanantin Alpaca was officially born.
Bolivia is a country in South America that is afflicted by poverty and inequality. Haunted by corruption, discrimination and inequity, big parts of its population suffer from social exclusion. Despite the efforts of both national and international intervention, Bolivians continue to suffer the limitedness of their opportunities.
Yanantin exists to help people overcome these barriers. I believe that by focussing on small but real impact, people can be given a chance to escape their situation. I believe that it is important to give people the agency, the power, to make their own change.
I do that by paying a fair salary. Fair to me means more than the minimum wage. I don’t believe that something minimum can maximize our impact. Yanantin therefore pays a salary that is 9 times higher than the local minimum wage. If you do the math, that means that of each scarf 10% goes to the woman that knits it. Again, I go for quality over quantity.
The Production Process
Nona uses a small, manual knitting machine. To me, this gives us the best of both worlds: Nona can apply her attention to detail, precision and experience, while the machine helps her to work faster than hand-knitting would have allowed her to. The machine is very user friendly, while still giving a personal touch to each item.
Nona keeps a keen eye out for irregularities or errors. At the same time, she can work a little faster with a whiff of technology to help her out. On top of that, all products have a hand-crocheted border, making each item unique.
Every item made by Yanantin Alpaca is unique, made with love and attention to detail.