Passion Points: Giving Back
Marcella Echavarria, the founder of Surevolution, calls herself a “nerdy anthropologist,” but innovative visionary more aptly describes the thirty-five-year-old Colombia native who is now based in New York. Echavarria came up with the concept for her company Surevolution, which has brought the exquisite works of hundreds of skilled artisans from such places as Colombia, Bolivia and India to a worldwide luxury market, while working as a consultant to UNESCO in 2003. “We received funding for a two-week program during which we collaborated with a group of Peru’s best filigree artisans,” she says. “But it made me sad that these spectacular pieces would end up sitting in some UNESCO office. I thought there must be a better way to get them onto the market.”
On a whim, she emailed four American fashion companies whose aesthetic she admired. A week later found herself pitching Surevolution to Donna Karan in New York. Intrigued by Echavarria’s idea—giving indigenous South American crafts a global platform and creating a diverse luxury brand—Karan committed to launching Surevolution at her Madison Avenue store. So, Echavarria returned to Colombia for a year to assemble a collection of handcrafted Andean products, ranging from hand-woven mochila bags made by the Wayüus, a matriarchal society, to wooden ritual stools made by the indigenous Sikuani community.
Today, Echavarria and her Surevolution partner, designer Dina Rothstein, spend many months traveling to remote areas in order to unearth, support and ultimately help preserve techniques and crafts that might otherwise vanish. They currently collaborate with artisans in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and India, and Surevolution’s home and fashion collections comprise some 3,000 pieces, all of which celebrate a unique cultural heritage. But Echavarria is far from finished with her mission, especially when it comes to fostering a new understanding of social entrepreneurship and giving back. We caught up with her at Surevolution’s recently opened showroom in New York, which is open to visitors by appointment (select pieces of the collection are also sold at Donna Karan, Neiman Marcus, ABC Carpet & Home and Vivre).
Read the interview with Echavarria.
Read Echavarria’s tips on what to see and do in Peru.
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