th century. The process of wool spinning, dyeing, and weaving with a horizonal loom has not been forgotten.
It sounds picturesque, and if you were in Colombia and could meet the women at work, you’d probably be compelled to buy your own piece as a souvenir. But, with e-commerce, traditional methods are only a nice idea and only really experienced as a long waiting period. It is Cardolan’s purpose to introduce each prospective buyer to their artisans. When you design your own piece, you learn about each artisan along the way through bios, photos, a digital experience of hiking the mountain and bringing a throw home as a souvenir. What Cardolan has recognized is that the true bottom line isn’t measured by dollars. It is measured in the interpersonal connections made at a global scale that causes the everyday consumer to think deeply about the people on the other end of each value chain. Consumer goods alone cannot shrink the 11 generation-long social mobility cycle in Colombia. It requires a willingness to hear and know each other’s stories.
Cardolan was started in 1972 by two women who brought together a group of local artisans from a small village in Colombia to provide a medium for women to earn their own income. Cardolan has continued this purpose today as they seek to provide opportunities for social mobility. It takes 11 generations for socio-economic advancement. Cardolan wants to change that.
Although the business has grown significantly, Cardolan has stuck to traditional methods of fabric making from Colombia’s Andean region which date back to the 15
With these feel-good ideas comes the difficult knots that Cardolan has yet to untangle.
- How do they manage customer expectations when many of us are used to the strict timelines of a long-industrialized textile industry?
- How do they expand internationally? By allowing for personal designs consumers can feel much more involved with the process but shipping costs are so prohibitively expensive that bulk shipping is the only way to go.
- They struggle to identify their target market.Younger buyers are more interested in the story behind each piece, but older consumers are typically the only ones who can afford to make a purchase.
Cardolan is a unique company that knows fabric is not just fabric. With every loom stroke there is a story encased within the wool. In this case, it’s the story of hopeful Colombian artisans looking for a better life while holding on to traditions. Like the family heirloom blanket, the Cardolan ideology has been passed down from generation to generation and still encased within every piece of fabric created. That’s what makes this company special.