OUR MISSION & PURPOSE
Feel the earth
We’ve had a single mission from the start: to support as many artisans in Argentina as possible, and work directly with them—no middlemen—to ethically produce high-quality and long-lasting homewares and textiles using noble and sustainable materials.
We define “ethical working” in our case as artisans working in their own environments in rural Argentina and getting a fair payment, which is above the average wage received by people in their region who are undertaking similar work. We have cultivated a relationship over years, based on trust and mutual respect, that we are proud of. In staying in their communities they are helping to preserve their culture, their heritage, the art of craftsmanship and their way of life. Typically, when they migrate to big cities, they cannot continue with this kind of work sustainably and it often leads to a loss of skills, traditional knowledge and feelings of displacement.
Led by our values
Pampa is founded by Victoria Aguirre and Carl Wilson: two photographers — one from Argentina, the other from Australia — who share two worlds, two visions and two cultures.
In 2013, Pampa launched our first project, partnering with artisan groups in Argentina to source one-of-a-kind rugs woven by artisans in their homes. From small beginnings, our range has expanded to include homewares by artisans all over Argentina and in other parts of South America — all ethically handcrafted and traded fairly through direct artisan partnerships.
Alongside our textiles, we launched Pampa Prints, a collection of original photography by Pampa’s co-founders, taken on their travels throughout diverse landscapes. These Fine Art Prints seek to inspire a connection with nature and to unite different parts of the world through a shared visual language. We always find so much inspiration when travelling through these remote areas and visiting our artisan partners. We photograph our collections in the locations that they come from, as we feel that there is no better place in which to portray them. Our rugs, textiles, soft furnishings and objects also celebrate their provenance; each of our rugs have unique variations in grain and colour profile, a marker of its origins and a signature of the weaver by whom it was woven.
We are often asked where we find our inspiration, and the answer is in these photographs. We come back to them time and time again as a reference, grateful that nature, our beautiful Pachamama (Mother Earth) feeds us the constant inspiration that we need to build our business and share with our community.
In 2015, Victoria’s brother, Manuel Aguirre, joined the business managing production in Argentina. As our operations grew and we began to work with new communities further afield, he became our Latin America Director.
In 2023, our 10th year of business, we became a Certified B Corporation™️. The process has encouraged us to be even more ambitious in our social and environmental impact strategy and to hold to our core values: Explore, Preserve, Empower.
OUR ARTISANS PARTNERS
We see our artisans as part of the extended Pampa family.
We see our artisans as part of the extended Pampa family and we speak with most of them on a weekly basis. Their happiness, health and well-being and financial stability matter to us, and as Pampa continues to grow, we work to support their growth too.
When we began Pampa, many of our artisan partners didn’t have anywhere to sell their products. Many of them had the knowledge and skills to weave incredible textiles, but lacked the ability or resources to connect them with a global audience.
The profits each artisan makes are reinvested back into their family, used to cover day-to-day living expenses such as food and clothing, paying school fees, accessing health care, and sourcing new tools and materials for weaving.
Earning a fair wage has enabled our weavers to form their own co-operatives, giving individuals the added benefit of sharing materials, ideas and workloads. This means that our weavers can maintain sustainable livelihoods, working from their homes and villages, eliminating the need to travel long distances to sell their rugs or find alternative employment in big cities.
By respecting each individual artisan’s creativity and technique, Pampa helps to give communities a stronger sense of cultural independence and pride. Showing our artisans, the real value of their work demonstrates to the younger generations that weaving is an honourable and profitable vocation, helping to preserve this traditional art form for years to come.
The way Pampa operates is unusual for modern business. Our weavers don’t have email, phone calls or text messages are the only way to communicate. This means that everything is dependent on a phone signal in their region. It requires a lot of extra effort and patience to be able to work the way we need to, but the more ongoing work we can provide for these communities, the more we are contributing to their growth and the building of sustainable regional communities.
You can read more about our artisans partners here.
As Pampa grows, we are looking to develop new partnerships with artisan communities across Latin America, and hope to bring more, ethically made, traditional craftsmanship to our international community.
We collaborate with our artisan communities on the design of our pieces.
When we began Pampa, we introduced designs that drew on traditions, folklore and parts of Argentinean heritage.
Since our first small Pampa collection, we have grown and have added our own team of designers to our Studio in Byron Bay. Led by Victoria Aguirre, the majority of our products are now designed in-house. The design process begins from Victoria’s time in nature (where she finds most of her inspiration) or from her extensive collection of design and historical photography books. It can also start from an idea from one of weavers. Either way, everything is finalised in our Byron Bay studio before sending off to the weavers for production.
We also admire and are inspired by traditional designs from Andean, Zapotec and Navajo communities, which have influenced some of our wares. One of the things we enjoy most is the process of research that precedes every new rug collection, which can be inspired by our travels, by our artisan communities or even from a place, a movement, an artist.
At Pampa, we produce our collections in very small batches, all rugs are produced one at a time except for the Mini Rugs that are produced in pairs. Our cushions come in batches of 50 for the most popular styles and in 5 or 10 for the less popular designs. Our Ponchos are produced in batches of 10 to 20, our woven chaguar bags are all one-off pieces and our leather bags come in batches of 20 at a time. The scale of growth and production in Pampa is limited by several factors: not wanting to flood the market, our commitment to having no wastage, and being conscious of the times in which we live, which demand we drastically reduce our consumption.
Our production process also relates to weather, which we feel makes our product even more special. We not only respect our artisan’s flow but also the rhythm’s of mother nature. The wool has to be dried in the sun—if it's monsoon season everything can be delayed. In the wintertime (when our sales are the highest, given we are a wool based brand) we can have challenges with wool supply. Sheep can’t be shorn in winter, and this past winter was particularly cold in Argentina. We didn’t have the wool for our rugs as the sheep needed the wool to make it comfortably and safely through the harsh winter. Due to climate change and the unpredictability of the seasons, this will be an important consideration in winters to come. All of these factors come into play and it is an ever-present understanding between our artisans, ourselves and our clients.
Running a business ethically that only produces small batches of handmade products at a time means that we have to pay close attention to our pricing structure. Exportation fees, import duties, domestic freight in Argentina and abroad, management of one-off pieces and all the usual expenses associated with running a retail business contribute to our final pricing. We keep our prices as low as we practically can, whilst still being able to maintain growth within the business to ensure a prosperous future for all involved in the chain. We are grateful to our community for supporting handmade, traditional craftsmanship and for allowing us to continue our artisan relationships with remote communities in Argentina.
We recognise that we are accountable for our impact on Mother Earth.
We are constantly reviewing our business practices to reflect this; working on reducing our carbon footprint, working with natural materials, eliminating all plastics from our packaging and shipping processes and ensuring we can continue to provide sustained livelihoods for our artisan partners.
In order to scale our social and environmental impact, we partner with the non-profit organisation One Tree Planted to plant trees in crucial reforestation projects around the world.
With every product sold, we plant a tree. When a Pampa Rug or Print is purchased, we are able to plant 5 trees, and 1 tree for every other Pampa piece.
One Tree Planted runs reforestation projects around the world, in the same places Pampa has its roots: Australia, Latin America and the U.S. This reflects our desire to not only offset our emissions, but to be environmental stewards in the areas where we work and advocate for our local environments. It’s a meaningful partnership for us and an important part of our efforts towards building a better, healthier future for our planet.
THE MATERIALS WE USE
Pampa respects resources by working with natural materials. We are very thoughtful at the time of selecting new materials to work with and always take into consideration the critical situation of our planet’s resources.
We love wool, especially sheep and llama’s wool which we use in all our handwoven rugs and textiles. Wool on its own is a natural, breathable and renewable fibre with low environmental impact and provides warmth and comfort to any room. All of our rugs are made from 100% hand-spun sheep wool, except for our intricate weave rugs which have a hidden internal cotton warp, which amounts to 3% to 4% of the fibre used in these rugs.
Most of our throws, ponchos and scarves are woven with llama’s wool, which is amazingly soft and luxurious. Some collections are a blend of llama wool, sheep’s wool and cotton.
Our cushions are all handwoven with 100% sheep’s wool, except for the Porteño and Puna cushions, which have the underside made of fabric from a local Argentinean supplier and then finished by a very small group of tailors.
The inserts we use inside of our cushions are filled with a PET fibre which is derived from cleaned and recycled water bottles. For every kilogram of PET fibre produced, more than 70 water bottles can be saved from going into landfill or potentially our oceans.
More recently, we began to work with Argentinean leather. Since Argentina is renowned for its leather, it was only a matter of time before we began working with this versatile material for Pampa. Leather production in Argentina has gained notoriety worldwide for its high quality, traceable origins and the use of traditional techniques, we are very proud to include it in our offering as a celebration of craftsmanship and the empowerment of cultural traditions.
The leathers we source are all vegetable-tanned using natural elements and are shaped, handled and finished by artisan groups. It is treated with great care and respect, alongside the artisans we appreciate how special and valuable a material this is. The leather we use is a by-product of the cattle industry, meaning it would otherwise go to waste if not used.
The leather for our Porteño chairs and swings and bags is specifically sourced for us from an area known as Las Pampas, just south west of Buenos Aires. We work closely with a small team of craftspeople who have been working with leather for generations. Their Elders pass knowledge and skills down to the younger generations who seek employment and the values of learning a trade.
The goldsmiths who make Pampa bracelets have also worked with leather for decades. They are passionate about preserving traditional and ‘gaucho’ style designs that can be seen on the talismanic, silver pendants they make (these can be found on some of our Ponchos too).
We love the way that this kind of natural leather ages, much like a good wine. It will accumulate small marks and variations that add authenticity and document the beauty of the aging process.
Chaguar is a natural fibre from a plant that looks very similar to aloe vera, which grows in the bush in the Litoral region of Northern Argentina. It is used by the Wichî indigenous community, who have been weaving with chaguar for centuries.
We’ve also introduced summer ponchos woven with 100% cotton, as they are hypoallergenic, breathable and much lighter than llama’s wool. The cotton we use in our blended ponchos is by-product cotton that was otherwise going to waste, so we are making good use of it.
We work with natural dyes for colour as much as possible. Not only do they reflect our aesthetic, but they also have minimal environmental impact. Our colours are derived from mostly plant matter: such as bark, leaves, fruit & vegetables, ash and other elements that are sourced from the surrounds of the weaver’s homes.
For some of the brighter, more intense colours we occasionally use, (such as blues and reds) these are produced from mineral dyes that we source for the weavers from a supplier in Buenos Aires.
Many of our garments don’t use dyes at all, and are simply woven from virgin wool. These are the pieces which we celebrate the most as they have even less environmental impact. For example, our classic Puna throws which come in natural, light brown, tobacco and black are woven from 100% virgin llama wool that have simply been cleaned, spun and woven. All of our grey and natural wool cushions are also 100% virgin wool.
We aim to be as plastic free as practically possible.
Our products are mostly handmade with no machine use, which is rare in modern production, but we wanted to do our best, and so reviewing our packaging was the obvious next step.
For our smaller, less fragile items we package them in compostable courier satchels made from corn starch. These can be used in home or commercial compost and will break down in worm farms. We also use larger compostable bags in place of plastic bags to protect bigger items inside boxes when needed (usually only with international shipments).
Some products come in calico market bags made from 100% cotton. These are reusable, washable and also made in Argentina by a small factory in Buenos Aires. These are much more expensive than a plastic option, but we like to provide work for another small business who is helping reduce permanent waste on the planet.
The leather labels stitched onto many of our rugs and textiles are made from offcuts from our leather bags.
Water Activated Tape is used where applicable in place of regular plastic tape. This is non-toxic, solvent and chemical free, and is a 100% recyclable alternative. Eco-stickers and labels made from recycled paper are also used in place of the usual plastic option.
Almost all of the packaging materials (such as boxes and compostable bags) which are used to transport products from Argentina to Australia are reused to send out orders to final customers. This means we have practically zero waste from all of our importation into Australia.
At Pampa, we are passionate about creating products from natural and sustainable materials that are designed to last, as well as to provide our clients with options to extend their lifetime through reuse or repair. We are continually working on and evolving our practices to extend the longest life possible to our products, minimising waste production and reducing our environmental effects.
FINE ART PRINTS
Our fine art prints are printed with a local family run business just outside of Byron Bay. We have worked with them for over 5 years now and absolutely love working with them. We print on 100% cotton rag paper, and ship them packaged in Australian made cardboard tubes to destinations all around the world. As of yet, we haven’t been able to find an alternative to the plastic end caps on these shipping tubes, but we are actively looking for a solution that will not put our fragile prints at risk of damage.
The products that are produced in remote Argentina travel by local bus services from the closest town to the weavers, to our office in Buenos Aires.
In our exportation from Argentina to Australia and the rest of the world, we are now selecting to pay an additional amount for each delivery with UPS to offset the shipment via their carbon neutral program. They partner with Natural Capital Partners to do so, you can find more info here.
We are currently looking into moving all of our domestic AusPost deliveries to a carbon neutral delivery service.
We are proud of our 'from the ground up' philosophy, which aims to uplift local communities in remote Argentina and other regions of Latin America, providing them with fair wages and supporting them to preserve their heritage and fine craftsmanship.
For every product made, especially our handwoven rugs, there are many different artisans involved: from cleaning and drying the sheep’s wool, to the hand-spinning, preparing the loom, weaving and then the finishing touches.
We are also planning on expanding our social impact work in the future. In addition to providing honourable work for our artisans, we endeavour to support them in other ways that will help their communities. We’re looking into joining forces with a local Argentinean business that can help us to further support them through well-being and education initiatives. Watch this space.
A product we are very proud of is our Litoral Hammocks. Here, we’ve partnered with Incausa to offer a truly unique product: the Xingu Hammock. It’s the first time we've explored a product of this nature and we are proud to have committed to this project pro-bono, meaning that after shipping and taxes, ALL profits go directly to the Amari Woman in Brazil.
We are considering a new idea where our clients can choose to write a letter to a weaver if they want to thank them personally for their beautiful work. In doing this, we are not only empowering them as artisans, but adding a real human connection to the transaction.
And in Byron, Australia, we try to participate in the local events of our small creative community, and contribute to fundraisers, charity events and local projects in and around our local region.
We aim to be completely transparent and accountable in all aspects of the business.
We are always looking for new ways to improve our practices, promote inclusivity and be good stewards of our environment.
Please get in contact if you have any suggestions for our products, processes or services.
Read about our B Corp Certification +
Read about our Process +
Read about our Artisans Partners +
Read About Pampa +
Read about our Manifesto +