In Her Words / A Letter from Marta Castañeda

In Her Words

Dear Ibu Allies,

My name is Marta Castañeda, and with my sister Sandra, I founded País Textil in Peru. Peru boasts a vast textile tradition and native materials of excellent quality such as alpaca, vicuña, or pima cotton. Peruvian craftspeople are highly skilled—our greatest challenge is to achieve a market, large and constant enough, so the women who continue to practice our gorgeous textile tradition will preserve it and earn a living doing so.

I never imagined I would start a textile business that promoted social development projects in my home country—I studied literature and linguistics, and wanted to be a writer. However, an appreciation for Peruvian folk art and craftsmanship has always been a part of my life. Growing up in a home with collections of hats, clay sculpture, and textiles, I started my own collection of traditional masks as an adult. After a long and demanding career in the media/press and the political sphere, I decided to shift gears to something I really wanted to do, and País Textil was born. 

País Textil

We work with women around the country to recover backstrap loom weaving techniques, teaching some of them to use backstrap looms like their ancestors. Elegant in its simplicity, weavers secure one end of the loom to a stationary object, like a tree, and fasten the other end around their backs with a strap. The weavers can then control the tension of the threads using their own body weight.

I started País Textil with a small project in the mountains of Lima, to help a group of women create a collection of woven objects for tourists passing through their area. To get to the town, we had to travel and load everything on mules. It was terribly cold and beautiful!

We met Susan in 2015 in New York. Ibu was our third client, and we have not stopped working together since. We love Ibu for their kindness and solidarity, their fascination with fabrics and designs from different parts of the world, and their open mind to see beauty in different cultures.

backstrap loom weaving techniques

When asked how many women our work impacts we like to say "how many families?” We believe that women’s work has a direct impact on the home, providing better nutrition and educational resources for families. A woman who is well paid is empowered and valued. She is less likely to be abused; and the children of respected women tend to respect their partners and their daughters. We believe that a change for thousands of women begins with autonomy and money in their hands. País Textil is grateful to impact 40 families.

The COVID pandemic has been difficult for so many, and the time to recover what was lost is now. Let's keep moving. I encourage you to keep supporting Ibu, and through them, thousands of women in the world. 

Warm Regards,
Marta Castañeda
Co-Founder, País Textil