Each Minga bag is produced using 100% all-natural materials. The fiber originates from sustainably harvested cactus and we use a variety of plants native to Ecuador to botanically dye each bag.
Finding the Cactus Fiber: In order to make a bag, the artisans first seek out a penca cactus—a large, wild agave cactus native to the Andean region of Ecuador—to access it's fiber called cabuya.
Extracting and Preparing the Fiber: Using a machete, the cabuya cactus is deleaved and put through a machine to extract it’s durable, string-like fiber. The fiber that lives inside the leaves is found in a tangled and sticky state. The women must wash, dry, and finally straighten the fiber with a large comb so it’s ready to be used.
Spinning the Thread: The women use a foot-powered spinning machine to slowly turn the cabuya fiber into workable thread.
Botanically Dying the Fiber: Next, the fiber is colored using specially prepared, chemical-free dyes made from handpicked, native plants of Ecuador. The women seek out the plants, create the dye blends, and cook the cabuya fiber over fire in their homes. The fiber sits in the dye overnight to let the colors absorb resulting in an all-natural, earth-toned shade.
Making the Bag: Now that the colors have been added, the women lay out the fiber to soak up the sun and dry out one last time. The fiber is rolled into a ball so it can easily be worked with during creation stage. This is where the the magic happens: Making the bag. The women work from one of a kind designs to crochet slip-knot loops row by row. Each bag takes at least a day of careful concentration and creativity to create; Larger bags can take up to 3-5 days to finish.
Adding the Leather: Once the bag is complete, the women hand it over to the next team of Ecuadorian artisans: The Leathersmiths. Minga works with a small, family-run business who has been working with suela, a vegetable-tanned cow leather, for over 25 years. This high-quality leather is naturally-dyed and free of chemicals to reveal it’s unique texture and natural imperfections. Each bag is made by hand and will naturally wear, picking up oils to soften and beautify over time.