I, Keith Merl, founded Artesania, Inc. in 1983 after graduating from Columbia University in New York City. While traveling in South America I found beautiful hand knit alpaca sweaters in La Paz Bolivia. I purchased a few dozen sweaters and shipped home. I took those sweaters in a duffle bag to Times Square and displayed a few of them on a bush. The reaction was immediate and a crowd formed and I heard “How much is that sweater?” The next thing I felt was a hand on my arm and the man in blue was taking me to the police station.
Artesania was born!!
I got my street vendors license, starting selling at flea markets, street fairs, and colleges. In 1985 I opened my first store on Columbus Avenue and that same year I started my wholesale operation. To differentiate myself I started designing my own products and displayed them at wholesale trade shows. In the year 2000, I closed all retail operations in order to focus exclusively on wholesale. We currently manufacture in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Our mission at Artesania is to bring to the marketplace quality, unique, eco-friendly, affordable products. We work with hundreds of women that knit in their homes and earn a fair wage for their labor. A cooperative of alpaca farmers provide most of the wool for our products and this wool is renewable and sustainable. The animals live in their natural habitat in the highlands of the Andes mountains.
Our mission is also to satisfy our customers with both new designs and products on an annual basis and by providing prompt, friendly and courteous service.
Artesania and our artisans thank customers for their support.
Keith Merl, President.