Meet Sigrid Arias, the founder and designer of Najash, born in Pereira, a city located in Colombia. She grew up observing the indigenous art developed in her city by the Emberas Chami Community, from this story came the love of her for the handmade pieces. She studied business administration in the Eafit University, always with the conviction of being an entrepreneur and develop a project inspired in fashion topics manufactured by the indigenous communities of Colombia. She founded Najash in the year of 2014, with the purpose of supporting the Colombian indigenous communities, preserving their art through time and showing it to the world.
“Our NAJASH pieces have a special connotation: the mix the of different artisan techniques of Colombian indigenous communities, that understand each other just because they believe in magic.”
What is the inspiration behind your brand?
Inspired in the tropical flora and fauna of Colombia as well as in this country’s rich ethnic variety, Najash presents its products of unique design, elaborated by hand, reviving the centuries-old handicrafts and traditional graphic language of 3 indigenous cultures, Embera chami, Kamentsa, Wayuu and the women weavers of Sandona Nariño. The result of their designs are pieces full of vibrant life, mirrors of the Southamerican tropical landscapes, their natural beauty, combining the sensuality of vivid colours and exotic animals at home in their forests and countryside.
Who are the artisans and communities you work with and what is your pledge to them?
The WAYUU or GUAJIROS (in the ARAHUACO language meaning "Sir, Master, powerful man“ are Colombian aborigins living since ancient times on the Guajira peninsula on the shore of the Carribean Sea. It is traditionally their women who weave the so-called “mochilas“, passing on their art and knowledge from generation to generation, thus establishing themselves as the main source of the family livelihood. Many of the designs woven into each mochila show the elements of nature surrounding the WAYUU, their animals, the sun, the plants they are used to, and the stars, and last - but not least - they represent their spiritual beliefs. The designing and weaving of just one mochila takes about a fortnight and is totally handmade by one woman from beginning to end. We work directly with each one of them, paying a good and fair price for theit wonderful art and contributing socially to the wellbeing of their communities.
The EMBERA CHAMI are a Southamerican indigenous people dwelling on some areas of the Colombian Pacific coastline and bordering zones. They share their name EMBERA CHAMI with all those indigenous who occupy the west and central “cordilleras“ (mountain range) of the Colombian Andes, living therefore in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Valle. An outstanding feature of their traditions is their communication with the spirits “jai“, through the guidance of the jaibanás, chamanes who teach their wisdom to each new generation. The weaving of every piece is handmade by each craftsman, and the time employed depends of course on the size, the figures and the colour combination required. We work directly with the leader of each family group, and the work is distributed in fairness among the whole community.
The village Kamentsa is a unique town in the world, they are native to the Valley of Sibundoy in the department of Putumayo, in their language their territory is called BËNGBE WÂMAN TABANÔK, which translates “Our sacred place of Origin”. His practice is linked to the teaching of his ancestors, through generations, a life woven with the threads that come from TSËBATSANA that represent trees, water, plants, animals, light, night, day, language, the moon, the sun, everything that is part of BËNGBE WÂMAN TABANÔK. This community is always in permanent contact with nature as a fundamental source of their creativity. They weave on handcrafted looms, the oral tradition is an inexhaustible source of inspiration; next to her the visions that Taita Yage gives them, disturb the spirit of the weavers so that the faces of the soul sprout from their hands.
In Sandona Nariño, a village of farmers and artisans, there is located the association led by the artisan Juana Castillo, composed of 130 women heads of family and six men of the region. Traditionally men are responsible for picking straw preferably in the waning moon, then it is dried, bleached and sometimes dyed and taken to women who are grouped in family workshops. The association of Juanita weavers has as its main skill hand weaving in iraka palm, which is a natural fiber, ancestral heritage of more than 100 years.
Najash has a variety of beautiful crafts either for a casual beach day, an elegant look at the city or a chic style for the evening!