Founded in 2014, NINAKURU is an ethical accessories brand which designs and distributes bespoke, handmade collections of authentic Ecuadorian Panama hats, wool hats, leather and straw bags, and other accessories. Sourced from Ecuador and styled and designed in Ojai, California, NINAKURU products are made from ethically sourced and sustainably harvested materials.
The CreatorJennifer Moray, the founder, is recognized for her bespoke collections of Ecuadorian handmade Panama hats, hand-shaped wool hats, leather and straw handbags, and many other accessory inspirations which are re-imagined with her discerning eye for quality finishes, clean design, and refined simplicity. Jennifer’s collections are curated for a select group of boutiques in the US and Europe, attracting a sophisticated and mindful clientele who recognize and appreciate skilled craftsmanship and the associated artistic value and luxury it represents.
The PurposeThe true purpose of NINAKURU, however, is investing in people and understanding the symbiotic relationship between designer, artisan and customer, to create value. “I feel strongly,” Jennifer shared, “That success can only be realized by valuing the potential, creativity and skills of the people who surround me, and the masterful artisans who invest their time and talent in my imagination.”
“We recognize and honor our shared talents – we collaborate and create holistically beautiful handcrafted one-of-kind pieces, and most importantly, we derive strength, motivation and purpose not only for one another but through one another.” Translated from Quechua, the language of the Incan people, NINAKURU means “firefly”.
“NINAKURU is a wonderfully fitting name for the company, representing that true beauty radiates from within, and each of us has an inner glow worthy of being noticed.” NINAKURU was developed to help preserve the livelihood of artisans in developing countries who rely on their trade to support the economic and educational development of their families. “Each purchase of a NINAKURU handmade product helps us actively engage in supporting artisans obtain fair prices for their goods and helps promote their sustainability, while helping us raise awareness for the need of higher ethical and environmental standards in international trade.” Few artisans are able to obtain the financial resources to purchase materials needed to produce a higher quality product, which would secure a better profit margin for their goods.
“This is where we come in. We look for the most talented artisans, work with them to create our designs, provide them with quality materials, then I finish all our hats in our Ojai workshop, ensuring each hat is one-of-a-kind. Adding high quality finishes polishes and differentiates the products, allowing us to place them in international markets where better prices can be obtained.”
The ProcessKnown to many in Ojai as “The Ojai hat maker” and “The Ojai hat designer”, Jennifer travels to South America bi-annually working side-by-side with her artisans throughout the entire design and creation process, hand-selecting each raw material, ensuring a quality product is produced and delivered. “By adding top quality finishes sourced globally, we can obtain a fair sell price, enabling us to pay the artisans prices representative of their work. In this way, we help provide a sustainable living for our craftspeople and by doing so they are better able to sustain their families.” While NINAKURU was created to help people create a better life for themselves and their families, the customer is just as important as the person who makes the product.
“NINAKURU products are so much fun and they inspire people every day. Wearing a NINAKURU hat, bag or accessory will upgrade your look. You will get noticed. You will get compliments.” Ultimately, NINAKURU is Jennifer’s way of sharing her creative passions and desire to give back to those in need, while preserving the art of handmade.