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Medellin-based Company Proposes Ethically-made "Wearable Art"

Entreaguas

5. Gender Equality 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Through their production process using natural dyes and ethical labor practices, Entreaguas freshly innovates conventional customs in the industry. They diverge from the traditional production system in clothing manufacturing, where companies tend to mass-produce low-quality, short-living products that exploit the use of resources, their laborers, and generate considerable chemical waste. They target SDG 12 - Responsible Production and Consumption, by conscientiously using resources, responsibly managing chemical waste, and discouraging a generation of wasteful consumption. Moreover, the company concentrates on SDG 5 - Gender Equality and SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, by employing local, single mother artisans that carefully produce “art pieces.”

Authors

Valentina Velez

Valentina Velez

Paloma Martinez

Paloma Martinez

Melania Escorriola

Melania Escorriola

Enrique Martinez Sosa

Enrique Martinez Sosa

Abraham Villazon

Abraham Villazon

Mariano lopez

Mariano lopez

School

Universidad de Navarra

Universidad de Navarra

Professor

Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo

Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo

Innovation

Entreaguas differs from any other clothing company by resorting to natural dyes for their apparel. Regarding SDG 12, the company has a special focus on the 12. 2 target goal: Sustainable Management and use of Natural Resources. In the creation process of their products, they make conscious use of natural dyes, and they “produce everything in ivory color, and dye according to demand. This means that we do not have stock without rotation and stored inventory.” (Botero, 2021) This avoids the unnecessary and wasteful production of products that do not go in accordance with the current demand for their pieces. The way in which they produce their clothing is also sustainable because each garment requires attentive hand-crafted labor and is not mass-produced as in fast fashion.

Additionally, Entreaguas addresses the 12.4 target goal of Responsible Management of Chemicals and Waste with water treatment plants that ensure there is no major water contamination in their local environments. Also, their dyes come from nature which means that there are no artificial chemical leaks into the environment. They also (12.5) Reduce Waste Generation by creating long-lasting pieces that prevent its customers from having to constantly buy more, Botero says, “Our pieces are timeless, you use them today and you can use [in] years.” (Botero, 2021) Also, they reuse materials, their bags are made with patchwork of leftover cloth.

This company innovates in their approach to employability and work standards. In line with SDG 5 and 8, Entreaguas promotes (8.5) Employment and Decent Work with Equal Pay. The brand’s hand-crafted art is performed by mothers who are heads of households, who are allowed to create from their own homes in order to care for their children. This also (8.8) promotes safe working environments. These women now have the opportunity to make their own economic decisions and have rights to financial services and ownership. (SDG 5) Additionally, they offer courses, workshops, and extracurricular classes to which employees can sign up to strengthen their passions. In 2015, in Cisneros (COL), Natalia Botero launched a program to create job opportunities for vulnerable communities and with various foundations such as, "La casa de María y el niño" and "Corporación solidaridad y compromiso".


Medellin-based Company Proposes Ethically-made "Wearable Art"

Up-close and personal with the macramé details and natural dyeing of 2 of the so many artworks from Entreaguas

Inspiration

The founder Natalia Botero always had talent in art and fashion and she suggests that she truly began to undertake the company even before she was actually aware of it. In her junior year at university, she decided to combine her two passions together, art and fashion, and that was how the company began. "More than fashion, our company focuses on the fabrics, colors, textures and how they impact our lives, and that is how the purpose of the company was formed." (Botero, 2021) The motivation they had was to accomplish their initial purpose which is to transform the world through art. With the purpose being clear and in order to fulfill their goals they created the Entreaguas foundation and used organic dyes to create their product.

“We are convinced that when there is a social commitment, everything makes more sense, learning and growth comes when you share it with those around you,” Entreaguas foundation.

First, Natalia Botero and her partner, David, created the Entreaguas Foundation in 2014, in order to assure their employees' future, study, and support. The members of the Entreaguas Foundation are the ones who create the final product. The inequality in job opportunities in Colombia for people with disabilities and artisans has a great effect on the quality of life for these groups of people. This situation is very noticeable in many different small towns in Colombia, one of which is Manizales where Natalia Botero grew up. By creating this foundation Natalia was able not only to fulfill her dream but to address the social problems in Colombia by giving this group of people the opportunity to strengthen passions and find economic independence that contributes to their basic human needs.

Second, they started experimenting by dyeing their products with organic dyes in order to eliminate all chemical contamination in waters and they truly discovered what nature has to offer. “Natural dyeing is a slow process, creating takes time and is often unpredictable, which makes it so exciting, nature never ceases to amaze us. It takes from several hours to several days to extract the pigments from the plants.” (Botero, 2021)

Overall impact

In 2013, Entreaguas started creating art pieces, combining artistic techniques with the caring hands of single mother artisans, having as a goal to sustainable manufacture beachwear. By making art pieces with the use of organic dyes, they were able to prevent contamination and have a positive effect on the environment in the short and long term. This way, they considerably reduce their footprint compared to the potential one if they used synthetic dyes. Hopefully, in the even longer run, other companies will implement the use of natural dyes for most of their products.

By hiring and giving labor opportunities to single mothers, Entreaguas had a short-term effect of fulfilling the dreams of artisans as they could put their creativity to work. Furthermore, it allowed single mothers to have improved their living conditions. In 2015, a program was created in order to create job opportunities for vulnerable communities in Cisneros, Colombia. Moreover, it gave training in various hand-woven techniques while using organic dyes and having positive externalities on the environment. The long-term effect of this program allowed physically and mentally challenged people, single mothers, and young people to fully integrate into society. Also, these employed women can gain financial independence and acquire their own capital. Additionally, a non-profit foundation was established in order for the business to become a platform to help educate and provide jobs to people in socio-economic instability in the long term. This way the company was also able to address social issues in Colombia and create a positive impact on the environment. Every time you buy an Entreaguas swimsuit, 3% of the purchase is donated to its foundation. This helps create better life quality all around the local communities in Medellín where Entreaguas has and will settle. The blog for the Entreaguas foundation is constantly updated with the help it offers and the achievements it has had until now.

Business benefit

By betting on quality and uniqueness in their pieces with natural dyeing, Entreaguas creates brand loyalty from its customers. Their main focus has been on the meaning of their products. Their production process is decentralized and hand-made. This process makes it possible for the company to differentiate one piece from the other, giving them a special characteristic of having unique and timeless pieces of clothing. It is obvious that this has created a market niche, of customers who value a product in its integrity, not just the aesthetics and detail, but also the significance behind each product. They have two specific things in mind: their dyeing technique and the single mother artisans who give shape to the piece of clothing.

The uniqueness and quality that arises from the dyeing techniques and careful manufacturing, has clearly caught the attention of international customers. This is shown in the more than 7,000 units that the brand exports each year.

As clearly shown by the company’s bases, Entreaguas extremely values employee wellbeing. They do not have mass production lines that tend to exploit their laborers. Instead, they allow for their artisan employees to create a decent pace and allow for extensive detailing. The company even allows for its employees to work from home to care for their families which clearly creates better working conditions. By employing people to do what they are really passionate about and good at increases the quality of each piece.

They have also opted for programs in which they offer courses, workshops, and extracurricular classes where employees strengthen their passions and assist them with their nutrition and health habits. These programs lead to a better and healthier environment for their employees, which in the end results in them being more productive and more comfortable where they are working.

Social and environmental benefit

Botero tells about Entreaguas: “We work under 3 pillars: environmental, social and economic (profitability).” (Botero, 2021)

Society is positively impacted by this company in several ways. First, they give distinctive labor opportunities for women and local artisans. If it were not for them, these people, especially single mothers, would be unemployed, or if employed, in poorly remunerated, less adaptable jobs. Their children would have to go through difficult situations as well. They also have a foundation of their own, called Entreaguas Foundation. This non-profit organization creates programs to generate jobs to help vulnerable communities and gives training in hand-woven techniques to teach people new skills that can qualify them for new jobs. Additionally, the company works hand in hand with many foundations such as "La casa de Maria y el niño” and “Corporación solidaridad y compromiso.”

Also, by using organic dyes, they show they act responsibly and have a positive impact on the environment. Using organic dyes means that all of their garments are dyed using colors that have been extracted from nature. Being fruits, vegetables, and/or rocks and soil. This way Entreaguas does not leak chemicals into the water they use in the process and there is no contamination. In addition, they filter the water they use so that when the water is released there is no danger to the environment. This shows that Entreaguas does not only act responsible by filtering the water used, but they also go above and beyond by creating their own organic dyes having a positive impact on the environment.

Interview

Natalia Botero, CEO, Founder and Creative Director

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Entreaguas

Entreaguas

Medellin, Antioquia, CO

Business Website: https://int.entreaguas.com.co/

Year Founded: 2013

Number of Employees: 501 to 1000

The business Entreaguas is a Colombian company that was founded by Natalia Botero in 2013. This company creates and sells swimwear that combines traditional handcrafting and dyeing techniques. Each piece is handcrafted by local single mothers. Thanks to the artisanal techniques, the color and texture are slightly different from all others, making each piece unique.