Olga Reiche first became familiar with Guatemalan weavers in 1978 while she traveled the country working for Oxfam International. She now lives in Antigua, where she heads the sustainable eco-fashion brand INDIGO that works with craftspeople from different regions to create clothing from recycled and reused materials. The name of her brand is inspired by the rich blue pigment which comes from the native Guatemalan indigo plant. Olga is the lead designer and produces naturally-dyed threads that are used by a team of weavers with whom she collaborates—mostly women working out of their homes. They make pieces according to Olga’s instructions, weaving almost exclusively on backstrap looms, incorporating patterns and symbols inspired by their shared Mayan heritage. Once the pieces are fabricated, they are returned to Olga for assembly into comfortable and luxurious handmade garments that have been featured in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue Mexico.
Olga is also a teacher who shares her knowledge of natural dyes with the artisans she employs and groups of weavers in Bolivia, Mexico, and the Canary Islands. In an article she wrote for ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America in 2006, Olga waxes about her career. “I’m fascinated by the possibilities of using indigo and other dyes deeply rooted in nature and history as viable options to synthetic dyes. I’ve spent more than thirty years experimenting with these dyeing techniques, and it’s how I make my living. I have to admit indigo is my favorite dye.”