“If you have passion for your work, everything will fall into place,” says Natalia Ortega Gamez, one of the founders behind Los Tejedores, a handmade woven hat company based out of the Dominican Republic. Ortega Gamez (a designer) and her musician, actor boyfriend Ricardo Ariel Toribo, started Los Tejedores two years ago, after meeting artisans on a trip to the countryside. The beachy hats (that range in styles from visors to floppy sun and panama hats) are made by skilled craftsmen in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti and are created using all natural materials, such as coconut, guano, bamboo, cotton, and plantains.
“It’s an old method that’s been passed on from generation to generation and the hats are made by hand in either Haiti or the Dominican Republic,” the couple says.
Los Tejedores pieces aren’t your average woven hats either. They come in bold designs, styles, and colors cool enough to wear all summer long — not just at the beach! You can easily pair them with summer dresses, shorts, and rompers for a chic, casual look. They sell for $38-$50.
For Ortega Gamez and Toribo, the project has also been a way for them to connect with their Dominican heritage. “For us the cultural significance is the search for tradition — that brings a contemporary context and empowers artisans,” they say, adding that they also plan to partner with artisans from other places.
Los Tejedores also has a few new projects up their sleeves. They are currently venturing into home decor by creating lamps made out of bamboo. And eventually they’d like to expand, making their products available in areas outside of the Dominican Republic and Los Angeles, which is where they sell stateside. “We want to sell all over the world! We see it as a job opportunity for many more people who have the artisan craft but who don’t have the platform. We are that platform for exposure, sales, and recognition,” they say. They also hope to have an online store running soon. For now check out their site at lostejedores.com.
“The support has been fantastic,“ they say. “We’ve sold hats to Los Angeles, New York City, Amsterdam, and people reach out to us from all over the world.” As of now, you can purchase the hats at a few shops in Santo Domingo including, Casa Quien, Tienda Organics de Acropolis, and Tienda del Mariposario del Botanico Nacional, and their L.A. carrier Otherwild. Items can also be purchased by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.