SUSU works with the indigenous women of the ethnic Colombian Wayúu group. The beautiful and colorful patterns are handmade by expert knitters using a single string technique. Every knitted pattern has a woman, a family and a real-life story behind it. A standard sized bag takes around 40 hours of work from a knitter. This artisanal process produces the most vibrant patterns and highest quality craftsmanship. The single string technique is the oldest and most authentic Wayúu knitting style. SUSU Accessories promotes a sustainable lifestyle with a Fair Trade philosophy for nearly 500 Wayúu knitters and their families, while forging strong bonds in the communities where we work.
Who We Are
Zuly is a wife and a mother of a little girl named Mariana. She studied economics at the National University of Colombia. Tired of the corporate life, she decided to focus her career in social entrepreneurship.
Zuly is from La Guajira, the only region in the world with Wayúu indigenous communities. She was born and raised with knowledge of the Wayúu culture. With her work, she seeks to value and to highlight the Wayúu’s ancient treasure and share it with the world through their knitted patterns.
Her heart resides in La Guajira, but her eyes are focused on the world. Through SUSU Accessories, she seeks to improve the quality of life for the more than 350 artisans who are part of the project as well as their community. Zulima believes this philosophy of sustainability should be impregnated into the DNA of every business model.
Nadia is from Valledupar, Cesar, Colombia near La Guajira, the native province of the Wayúu. As long as she could remember, she has admired the colorful and unique patterns and styles the Wayúu use to create their clothes and accessories.
She moved to the United States at age 17 and worked in the banking industry until she became a mother of two children, at which time she decided to become a stay at home mom. When she decided to return to the workforce, she looked for opportunities that would allow her to help others, while also controlling her own direction and time. Her love of art and unique fashion often drew her to handmade art fairs. Observing the creations at these fairs made her realize the uniqueness of the Wayúu products she grew up with in Colombia. Nadia mentioned her observations to her closest childhood friend, Zulima, who has Wayúu relatives. Together, they investigated how they could help facilitate the Wayúu in bridging the chasm between their domestic market and the world market. In the process, the partners encountered layers of complexity and profoundness in the art, history and lifestyle of the Wayúu that had never been comprehensively communicated outside of the Wayúu community, even in their native Colombia.
This led them to found SUSU Accessories, in order to connect the Wayúu culture and their art to the wider world, but in a way that economically empowers the Wayúu women to preserve their art and defend their culture, traditions, lifestyle, and community.
Laura grew up in Valledupar, Cesar, in the Colombian Caribbean, very near the Wayuu’s native province of La Guajira. Laura and Nadia are cousins and best friends. Laura joined the SUSU team in 2016.
After graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering in Colombia, Laura’s desire to travel made her join Nadia in the US. In the U.S. Laura carved her own path, forging a strong career as an engineer, and building a family with her husband, Jim, and their two children, before later becoming a partner in SUSU Accessories.
Laura loved the idea of bringing the Wayúu art and culture to the world. Laura infuses SUSU with her professional skills and her passion for her native Colombia. In her work with SUSU, Laura has found immense fulfillment in assisting the Wayúu in achieving the means to live in a dignified manner, without compromising their cultural heritage and in earning recognition for their artisanal masterpieces.
Laura’s mission is to put the Wayúu and SUSU “on the map” of high fashion, with high quality, handmade, one-of-a-kind, impossible to replicate, and unique creations, without compromising their authenticity and Wayúu soul.