In summer 2013, Tito Alvarez travelled from Switzerland to Bolivia to visit his friend Paty Lucero where he began a journey that would give a new twist to his life.
Whilst enjoying the local culture and breathtaking sceneries that Bolivia has to offer, Tito noticed many women artisans making and selling hand-made woollen products on the streets of La Paz. He also noticed the presence of street children making a living by selling sweets, doing street performances or asking tourists for money for food.
Although Bolivia is a country rich in traditions, life can be quite challenging for people such as women artisans who to an extent are the ones keeping Bolivian culture alive through their knitting and making of artisan work.
Impressed by the artisans’ creations and wanting to support their work, Tito brought some beanies back to Europe. Once winter set in, people often asked him where he got the cool and colourful beanies from. And thus the idea for beyondBeanie was born. Paty started making numerous trips from Cochabamba to La Paz to meet the artisans who made the initial bB prototypes and learnt that many of them came from challenging backgrounds and led difficult lives. Several were single mothers with little or no education who struggled to provide their children with basic necessities such as food and appropriate winter clothing. Many of these women did not have confidence in themselves and put little or no value in their work. Wanting to change this situation, the founding team evolved the brand to make it one where every product carries the signature of the artisan who made it which boosts the artisans' self-esteem and teaches them to take pride in their beautiful work. After an informal photo shoot in December 2013 featuring Tito’s friends in Switzerland, the original shipment completely sold out through referrals and word of mouth.
At this point, Paty and Tito realized the potential of the concept and decided to take their venture online. Paty put her career as an architect on hold to dedicate herself 100% to beyondBeanie where she supervised production while Tito worked on building the brand.
beyondBeanie started online operations in March 2014 and currently carries a collection of winter and spring beanies, bags and ponchos. Every item is hand-signed by the artisan who made it. A unique feature of beyondBeanie is that you can contact the artisan and send a message of appreciation... or simply a hello. IN ADDITION TO SUPPORTING ARTISANS, BEYONDBEANIE ALSO WORKS WITH THE AMANECER SALOMON KLEIN CENTER IN COCHABAMBA TO PROVIDE MEALS, SCHOOL SUPPLIES AND UNIFORMS TO 38 ORPHANED CHILDREN IN BOLIVIA. The Salomon Klein is a center that offers care for orphaned and abandoned children from ages 0 to 6. These children are often abandoned as babies on the streets or are recovered from areas such as under bridges or isolated districts in the outskirts of the city. Learn about the artisans and projects that help children supported by beyondBeanie.