Waya’s travels

The desire for a return to La Guajira, in Colombia, motivated the birth of the Portuguese accessories’ brand, which is cataloguing its founder’s memories. Waya was born in 2015 and came in the luggage of Constança Félix da Costa, the entrepreneur with ethical concerns who travelled by South America two years ago and fell in love with the indigenous art of the Wayuu community.

The products of the young Waya are born in the hands of Colombian craftswoman, but the brand was born in Portuguese territory and is a Portuguese who is nurturing it. Along that, it gets to all over the world through the online channel.

«This project has formally started in 2015, but everything began with a journey that I took about two years ago by South America. In that trip, I completely fell in love with Colombia, specially by the area of La Guajira. From that moment on, every excuse to return was good» and… Waya was born, confesses Constança Félix da Costa, the brand’s founder, to Portugal Têxtil.

Constança Félix da Costa explains that “Waya” means “we” in Wayuunaiki, a local dialect of the Wayuu community, and that to baptize the brand with an underlying concept of sharing makes all sense.

The design and production of each handbag – the key product of Waya, which has colourful sandals and bracelets as company – is entirely executed by women of the Wayuu community, because the brand is «genuinely committed in share indigenous art», but Constança Félix da Costa’s personal taste ends up being «quite important in the process of creating each collection».

The Wayuu community, where all the manufacturing is made, «has suffered daily with the constant presence of guerrillas (FARC) and the continuous dispute for local power». However, «it has been able to keep a lifestyle that is passed on to the next generation», tells Waya’s founder.

The preservation of this lifestyle, adds Constança Félix da Costa, is also due to «the leadership role of women in the tribe and in the family». And the weaving technique developed by women from the Wayuu community, «being a symbol of intelligence, wisdom and creativity», is also a way of livelihood.

Each bag takes 15 days to be made, «being weaved in an artisanal way using cotton from La Guajira peninsula», explains the founder.

Born in the Internet, with sales through social media, Waya is «gaining more visibility lately, with summer’s arrival» and, since the season yells for colour, «handbags with fluorescent colours» are the most sought.

With a price range between 60 and 70 euros for handbags and 8 to 18 euros for accessories, the brand’s target are younger consumers and fashion markets and craftsmanship shows are important showcases. «Waya tends to be a brand that gains more visibility in summer, so, May and June have been quite positive», reveals Constança Félix da Costa, who highlights that many orders come from Spain.

With just 22 years old, the young founder, a graduate in Anthropology, has always enjoyed «the constant search for the interaction with cultures» that were a challenge for her. «Before I started this project, I’ve studied Anthropology for three years, and that has raised in me a conscience and the will to support and unveil sustainable businesses that might have some social impact in areas that are usually forgotten», she analyses regarding the path leading her to Waya.

Currently, for Constança Félix da Costa, the main conquest, which at the same time is the biggest challenge, is «to be able to maintain the brand active and growing, with a group of collaborators that assure an ethic production» and to keep building bridges between Portugal and Colombia.