"Hecho (pronounced e-tch-oh) means ‘made’ in Spanish and that really sums up what we focus on- the traditional processes of how our goods are made, the quality of life of the people who make them- that’s what we care most about"
-Sam, Founder Hecho & Co
We are excited to introduce you to Sam, founder of Hecho & Co. We first discovered the brand a couple of years ago in Vancouver and it has been a constant source of inspiration for us at Bare Knitwear. Now based between Vancouver and Amsterdam, Hecho & Co produces beautiful hand woven baskets, bags and textiles in partnership with artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. Connecting with like minded brands who value many generations of handcrafted goods, deepens our understanding and admiration for the processes and care that goes into each hand crafted product. As a designer from Bare Knitwear, I am fortunate for the opportunity to interview Hecho & Co leading lady Sam. Read our interview below to discover more behind the brand name, values and the warm community who bring these beautiful pieces to life.
Photography by Luvia Lazo & Hecho & Co
Emmanauelle de Raucourt: What inspired you to start Hecho & Co.?
Sam: There were quite a few factors that pushed me to start Hecho but I think the biggest one was really just the incredible craft and culture I saw on my very first trip to Oaxaca. That paired with the warmth of the people I met there, I really wanted to find a way to stay connected to this place and share its beauty with the world.
E: How did the name Hecho & Co. come about?
S: Hecho (pronounced e-tch-oh) means ‘made’ in Spanish and that really sums up what we focus on- the traditional processes of how our goods are made, the quality of life of the people who make them- that’s what we care most about. The ‘& Co.’ is important because it really is all the people involved that are the heart of this project.
E: What do you value most about the artisans that handcraft your pieces?
S: The generosity of sharing their knowledge, culture and hospitality. I try to visit Oaxaca at least once a year and on these trips I stay with the weavers for at least a couple of days. The time spent with their families, participating in daily tasks beyond weaving and designing really defined for me what ‘slow-made’ and ‘ethically-made’ means. I don’t think Hecho would still exist without these relationships we’ve built over the years.
E: I was really inspired by the initial process of going from young palm leaves, to a beautifully handwoven bag. Do you mind guiding us through the process of how this is made? Where do you get your inspiration from when designing your pieces?
S: Yes, definitely, it’s knowing the process that really helps us understand the true value of our pieces. As an non-indigenous person I’d like to preface by saying I only know the fundamentals and am learning more every time I get to stay with the weavers. There will probably be aspects of the process and its cultural significance that I’ll never learn, but I’m just grateful for the generosity of what the weavers are willing to share.
Our bags and baskets are woven in a region of Oaxaca called La Mixteca. Palm trees are usually associated with beaches and coastline but this is a mountainous region in the northwest of Oaxaca state.
In the village where our bags are made, the variety of palm used for weaving grow wild and abundantly in the landscape. Only the young palm leaves are usable as they are the thinnest and most flexible for weaving. Once the fronds are harvested, they are hand stripped with a small knife into the width of the specific bag design and sorted by length.
The master weavers we work with, like Pablo (who you’ve probably seen on IG) have a knowledge base of hundreds of weaving patterns and shapes (beyond baskets). In the many years of working with weavers I’ve never seen a written manual or notes. Everything is woven from memory. All of the patterns we use in our bag designs come from this knowledge base and we cannot take any credit for it. What we do collaborate on is size, shape and finishes.
Once the baskets are woven, the weavers we work with take an extra, rather uncommon step of treating the baskets so that the fibres remain flexible and smooth. I’m not at liberty to disclose what this treatment consists of but I can say that water is the only material used so it’s completely non-toxic and harmless.
All the baskets are then fitted with leather details in our Oaxaca studio by the other half of Hecho, Keren. Last year we embarked on a project together to teach ourselves leatherwork so that we could have greater creative freedom with design. It was a risk but it has really allowed us to experiment and create in a much shorter time-frame.
E: If you had to choose one of your pieces as your favourite, what would it be?
S: Our Estrella backpack is what really put us on the map and I love that three years later it continues to be a favourite. It’s so important that we create things that are timeless and functional. We’ve also partnered with some incredible Amuzgo backstrap loom weavers this past year and I can’t wait to wear my new plant dyed huipil as a little more sunshine comes back into our lives.