Inspired by the blankets and ponchos of her Argentine childhood, Rebecca Kramer launched her label Aessai (pronounced ‘essay’, as, says the designer, each piece has its own story) in 2017 with a mission: to build a truly sustainable business with a social conscience. Working primarily with the decades old Uruguayan collective, Manos del Uruguay – considered to be a pioneer of the FairTrade movement – the London-based designer also partners with expert weavers in Peru and Argentina who specialise in hand-knotting and hand-looming.

Together with these collectives, Kramer produces beautiful enveloping blankets, oversized scarves with long tassels and cosy, slubby jumpers. Partnering with local expert craftspeople and women’s cooperatives, Aessai contributes to keeping ancestral techniques alive and creating employment in rural communities, providing income and sustaining a traditional way of life. Whatsmore, each piece is created using only 100 per cent sustainable, biodegradable and carbon-neutral materials: soft alpaca yarn (so fine it was historically reserved only for Inca royalty), collected from grass-roaming alpacas on sustainably-managed farms high in the Peruvian Andes, is used in all its natural glory without being dyed. Fine grade merino wool is shorn by hand from free grazing herds in Uruguay and Argentina.

Grace and Santa blanket, Santa cushions, by Aessai

‘The biggest challenge as a small ethical business is how to succeed in communicating that an action in one area will affect outcomes in another and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability,’ says Kramer frankly, ‘I strongly believe that an ethical and sustainable business model is the only way forward, and one of Aessai’s main purposes is to make a small contribution towards the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.’

Now, Kramer is collaborating with the esteemed Danish design house Carl Hansen & Son. Kramer, who was invited by Knud Eric Hansen (CEO and owner of Carl Hansen & Son) and his wife Inger Hansen to visit their factory and home in Denmark, says ‘Both brands share a love for high quality design, craftsmanship and sustainability.’ §

Blanket by Aessai x Carl Hansen & Son
Rosa blanket, by Aessai