by Susan Schenck
There’s a new American-owned clothes and artesanos store attached to the new restaurant San Sebas. Its contents drew me in: 100% cotton shirts, some tie dyed, for only $21. I’m always a sucker for tie dye and batik, and these shirts would cost double that here had they been imported. The store also sells unique jewelry, pipes, and loads of other high-quality crafts. I was surprised to learn that this store belongs to an American I had met some time ago: Maureen Fernand. The store is named Tribu; the address is Mariscal Sucre y Coronel Talbot on the southwest corner of San Sebastian Square.
Here is an interview with Maureen.
Q: What inspired you to open the store?
A: It came from the reality that I wanted to bring this line of clothing to Cuenca. We need well-made cotton clothing, which comes in great easy-wear styles. I love artesania and wanted to buy quality handmade items from artisans who are talented, have passion, and are using natural products from South America. I wanted to rep a clothing line that I can personally endorse. The leather products and clothing line are something I have sought out since I began coming to Ecuador many years ago.
Q: It's hard for American women here to find clothes that fit. Even I, who am usually a medium (and sometimes even small) in the U.S. sizes, take an "extra grande" here — the largest size in your line. Can you tell us how you plan to remedy this situation with your clothes?
A: Tribu recently began making two times and three times sizes and I too am an extra large. I'm aware that these sizes must be custom ordered, but I believe that all of us women, regardless of our sizes, need to have the opportunity to wear beautifully made clothing. With this company, I can accommodate the needs of the "gringa" woman.
Q: I really like the idea of supporting things made locally in Ecuador as opposed to imports. What things do you sell and where do they come from? Who designs and makes them?
A: I have found a few choice artisans who make beautiful jewelry. My friend Pam has a degree in textiles and makes jewelry and accessories from South America. She is from Chile and lives in Mancora, Peru. She uses many of the indigenous woven fabrics. My friend Jaime is from Lima. He currently lives in Cuenca and he works with semi-precious stones, alpaca, bamboo, coconut, and seeds/products found in nature. He makes all types of jewelry, primarily necklaces and bracelets. My other friend Paola lives in Quito. She uses glass, pottery, and seeds, and makes jewelry as well. Her use of colors complements the clothing and textiles we see in nature. During my travels I have run into some other products as well … some wonderful earrings from Colombia using pumpkin and coffee beans, and in Canoa I met an artisan from Chile who makes wonderful earrings using the jacaranda tree. He uses designs found in the Mapuche culture.
Q: How can people, both customers and vendors, get in touche with you?
A: I welcome individuals to contact me, via e-mail: email@example.com; my phone is (Movistar): 09-255-7753. I can send anyone who asks a copy of the catalogue via email and help them to find what they're looking for. It may take a few weeks to receive, but with this company I firmly believe that everything is possible.
Susan Schenck, LAc, is a raw-food coach, lecturer, and author of the two-time award-winning book, The Live Food Factor, The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet, which has gained a reputation as the encyclopedia of the raw food diet, as well as Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work. Go to www.livefoodfactor.com and register for the free newsletter to get a copy of the first chapter of The Live Food Factor.