Páramo Clothing Páramo and the Miquelina Foundation - Paramo Clothing Blog

Páramo and the Miquelina Foundation

Páramo and the Miquelina Foundation have grown together over 30 years, providing employment and training for over 10,000 women. In February 2022, Páramo integrated the management of the Miquelina factory into its business, ensuring the continuation of our production partnership in to the future…

Alicia Gomez, Miquelina seamstress

Origins

The Andes, running along South America’s western side, is among the world’s longest mountain ranges and within it lies the páramo, an area between the upper limit of the forests and the lower limit of the snowline. It was right here, in 1986, around 3800m above sea level (a great spot to get wet) our founder Nick Brown tested his first garment and fabric combinations to their limits – staying warm, dry and comfortable.

Six years later, in 1992, Nick visited South America again and was introduced to Sister Esther Castaño Mejia, a nun with Las Adoratrices who at the time was running a small sewing workshop, Creaciones Miquelina, offering practical help to vulnerable women from the streets of Bogotá, Colombia. The workshop provided training and experience enabling women to apply for jobs in other factories, although it was not a commercially viable manufacturer at this stage with twenty women working on just two second hand sewing machines.

Nick Brown and Sister Esther Castaño Mejia

Sister Esther was in need of a visionary partner willing to help the charity grow and so the production of Nick’s directional waterproof garments began, Páramo was officially born and Miquelina – named after Sister Micaela, the founder of the order – was on the path to charitable foundation status.

“Nick has been the best ally. In addition to his business vision, he has an extraordinary social sensitivity that led Miquelina to reach high levels of quality.” Sister Rosaura, The Miquelina Foundation

Accreditation

In 1997, Miquelina incorporated as an independent charitable foundation and in 2002, it attained ISO 9001 accreditation, which provides the basis for effective people to deliver effective processes and product or service time after time. This prestigious international standard recognises Miquelina’s dedication to quality and, today, the factory manufactures 85% of our production.

Fair Trade status

In 2017, Miquelina attained guaranteed Fair Trade status from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and all garments manufactured by the Foundation now carry this label. This accreditation is of significant importance to the women who work at Miquelina as it aligns with the Foundation’s mission – to support social development with a vision to build a better future for people.

“The long-lasting partnership between Miquelina and Páramo is an admirable example which shows that economic development and product quality can go hand in hand with human development and social justice”. Rudi Dalvai, WFTO President

What next?

Four years ago, Nick Brown, wanting to ensure his legacy would take care of both staff and customers by balancing founding values with future evelopment began the process of converting his companies, Nikwax and Páramo, to an Employee Owned Trust (EOT). On 1st February 2022 the journey completed and the companies were purchased by the workforce, represented by the Trust.

Following this, Páramo integrated the management of the Miquelina factory in to its business, ensuring Miquelina employees also receive an equal stake in the EOT’s future, and securing our production partnership with them for years to come.

“The Miquelina Foundation is not there just to create jackets, but to create people – to dignify women who have been denied everything in society and left to feel alone as negotiable objects”. Sister Esther Castaño Mejia

Sister Esther Castaño Mejia embracing a Miquelina seamstress

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