Town: Santa Elena
kira kira life is proud to be working with “Ecuadoras Hats” which was created by Alex and Cedar in Ashland, Oregon.
In 2008, Alex spent his junior year of high school in Quito, Ecuador as a Rotary Foreign Exchange Student. Before leaving Ashland, Alex’s godfather, Cedar Miller promised him that he would come to Ecuador during the year, and take Alex surfing. He did. In the spring of 2009, after convincing Alex’s exchange family that everything would be okay, Alex and Cedar headed for the small coastal surf town of Montanita.
One morning, while eating breakfast, they noticed a man walking down the street, carrying a stick with woven ball caps hanging off of it. They fell in love with the hats and bought 3. After returning to the US and wearing the hats for over a year, Alex and Cedar realized just how awesome these hats really are. High up in the redwood tree in Cedar’s backyard, they had the idea that they should get more hats. So Cedar bought Alex a plane ticket with the instructions to meet the weavers and bring as many hats back as he could.
Alex did some sleuthing and found the names of the inventors of the woven baseball cap. He went to the village and met with the couple, Felix and Diana. He asked them how many hats they could make in the few days he had left. Employing their friends they gathered together 83 in that short time.
It took a year before Alex and Cedar picked up the project, in the summer of 2012 Alex brought the hats to the Oregon Country Fair and sold them all, even the one off his head. That fall they decided to dream big and Alex went back to Ecuador to make a business that would support everyone involved.
These hats were made in a small village in the province of Santa Elena, Ecuador. The region's economy is predominately based on agriculture and fishing. The highway, Ruta del Sol (Route of the Sun), which follows the whole central and north Ecuadorian coast, was recently completed, allowing for more domestic and international tourism.
The village where the weavers work is located between the highway and the coast, and has missed many government improvements associated with Ruta del Sol. Nonetheless, community development has continued, and the small coastal village communities are gradually carving out their own economic niches.
After playing on dirt soccer field for many years, the people of San Antonio have decided to turn their field to grass. It has taken them a year of slowly transplanting grass to grow their field, the only one in the region. Alex and Cedar are providing the village with high quality American soccer balls, and they gave the San Antonio soccer team new uniforms.