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è bella designs Goes Native

Susan Andrews, Cecile Corral -- Home Textiles Today, January 3, 2005

Boulder, Colo. —In a time when most textiles companies source their wares from China and India, Nicole Linton has rooted her company, è bella designs, in an unlikely spot — deep in Peru's Andes Mountains.

Since establishing her company four years ago, Linton has employed 60 local weavers in the town of Ayacucho to create rugs, decorative pillows, blankets and throws and some fashion accessories, including handbags, ponchos and jewelry — all of which today are sold on the shelves of department, specialty and gift stores and boutiques throughout the United States.

“We are merging an ancient weaving technique with modern designs,” Linton explained. “I give the weavers my designs, which are contemporary, and they turn them into functional art pieces.”

Linton's career path to textiles first began in college when in 1992 she went to finish her last semester in Costa Rica and ended up staying there another year. During that time, she worked in the rain forest teaching tourists about the ecosystem. After that stint, she went on to become a high school Spanish teacher.

It was during a vacation trip to Peru that she was inspired to make yet another career change, this time into designing and marketing her own line of home and fashion textiles.

“When I went to South America, I was so impressed by their textiles, and I fell in love with the people,” said Linton, who is of Italian-Irish decent. “I wanted to somehow work with them and at the time I was ready to make a switch in my career to something more creative.”

Linton said she travels to Ayacucho about four times per year, often as the guest of the Consulate of Peru.

Aside from her staff of 60 weavers who work on her looms in the village's family-run factories, she also hires a group from a local women's cooperative to produce some of the goods.

All of the products are hand-woven and made of either alpaca or wool. Some make up coordinate collections, while others are made as stand alone pieces.

Since last year, Linton has taken è bella designs (which translates from Italian to “it's beautiful”) to the New York Gift Show, where she said she has been able to grow her business into new distribution channels.

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