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Ariana Bohling, a Brooklyn-based shoe designer who insists on hand-made quality, heads to Peru to look for women who know a thing or two about artisanal craft. In the high Andean mountains, she finds indigenous groups who’ve cared for alpaca since the Incan Empire of the 16th century and sustain a strong interdependent relationship with these animals. Each year, the fleece of alpaca is shorn without cruelty; killing alpacas for their hides is forbidden.

Ariana thinks this a perfect material for luscious slippers She engages women who otherwise would have no employment to work with their own prized alpaca. Making these hand-crafted slippers provides the women a fair and livable wage and gives them a job of which they are proud.

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What results is a perfect indulgence; these slippers are a bit of heavenly fluff. I wear the knitted bobbly ones around the house and feel my feet are on high ground. Since I despise dowdy house shoes, this is just the fix.

And for the artisans as well. Check out those bowler hats the women wear sitting atop their heads with a jaunty slant. Called Bombin in this part of the world, they add a intriguing cultural layer to the work. Having been tied to their indigenous identity, these hats and the flouncy skirts that accompany them often carry a stigma - they became a symbol of disenfranchised native groups.

Now, however, women are taking back the power of their dress as a language of pride and claiming the honor and respect due them. Worn collectively to increase their unity and solidarity, women are standing firm for their rights in the face of oppressive customs and policies. The bowler hats are now a symbol of great pride in tradition. The Bohling slippers are a source of livelihood and hope, and a boon to you. All the way around, women win.

Ibu is all about that. 

All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker