è bella is a textile company on a good—and green—mission
AS GREEN AS IT GETS
“The Inca emperors and kings would wear anything alpaca. It was prized above gold because of its value,” Linton says about the fiber used in è bella's rugs and pillows. Alpaca fiber gets high points for sustainability: the animal eats native plants and doesn't herd, and its fleece is hypoallergenic, strong yet soft, and repels water while retaining heat. “It's much more durable than any other fiber—than cotton or silk or wool. It's going to last you a lifetime,” Linton says. What's more, the Peruvian weavers work out of their homes—not factories—on human-powered looms. (Amazingly, save for shipping, è bella's manufacturing process could have existed in pre-industrial society.)
Linton is honest about the sweat she's poured into building a sustainable business model. “It's taken a lot longer for me to do it this way,” she admits, but to her, the payoff is worth it. “Behind all of it, somebody else is getting consistent work and we're creating a sustainable business structure that I feel can be looked up to.”
In the near future, you might see è bella working with cooperatives that support local artisans and women in Afghanistan and India, using hemp, jute and cactus fibers to offer an even more vibrant selection of rugs. “We really want to be able to expand in the direction of our philosophy, which is supporting indigenous traditions and indigenous people who are in need of work,” Linton says.
But right now, Linton's most excited about the company's no-dye line, which she's hoping to launch by the beginning of April. “The alpaca fiber comes naturally in 18 different shades,” she explains. “You can work with grays and creams and camel colors up to a deep chocolate. That's as sustainable as I think you can get.”