Teysha | Sophie Eckrich and Travis Breiha | www.teysha.is
Teysha is an Austin-based, fair trade company importing 100% handmade, unique goods from around the world. Their flagship product, Kuna Kicks, feature a completely unique mola fabric (native Panamanian pattern), a signature of the Kuna women who produced it, and a guarantee that the sale made has direct impact in her community, over 1800 miles away. The co-founders, Sophie Eckrich and Travis Breihan, have created a bridge across cultures through conscious enterprise and beautiful, functional handmade goods that improve the quality of life for every individual involved in the trade. Read on!
Tell me how and when everything started.
We both have spent a long time traveling, studying, working, learning in Latin America and both have a strong passion for this part of the world. Being in Latin America, exploring cities and towns, you are exposed to so many different crafts, textiles, colors, that it’s impossible not to be drawn in. We were both long time collectors of artisan goods from the various countries. While the art draws you in, the people and their story remain with you. Often times they are continuing traditions passed on through their ancestors, but struggle to make a living when they are trying to sell their art in markets or on the side of the road. The business was inspired by the principles social entrepreneurship, we knew there was a way to develop this human potential further and connect people back home with these amazing art forms and stories of perseverance. It’s all about connecting the dots between what you’re experiences are, what you love to do, and how you feel you can be of service to the world.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a business owner?
We both had the entrepreneurial spirit for as long as we can remember. Through college this was strengthened through many, many (many) hours of dreaming up businesses that would allow us to work in Latin America.
We both were committed to work in the field of International Development, and when we did look for jobs in the field for after graduation, we saw the vast majority of them required a masters degree and four years experience. We didn’t want to wait to start doing what we loved for our job, so after that we were committed to starting our own company.
Where did you get your inspiration for your shop?
Our products are inspired by our fascination with artisan markets in Latin America, with so many colors, textures, details, creations. We’ve always been avid collectors, and wanted to share that beauty with people back home. Our products are meant to be wearable and functional mediums through which to share these amazing stories and beautiful art.
What advice would you give someone considering a similar path?
Just do it! There will never be the “perfect” time to start something, so don’t put it off. The cliches are true- follow what makes you happy and what you love, create your “job” out of that passion and you will never look back. Don’t get overwhelmed, take it step by step. Work hard, and believe that when you set your mind to do something, you can do it. Use google!
What makes your shop unique?
We are searching high and low for communities who possess skills of amazing, unique art, but who lack the access to market needed for a sustainable livelihood. Our first line of products, Kuna Kicks, are literally one of a kind shoes. Our products are made by putting the artisans welfare first and foremost, from the creator of the textile to the shoe maker, which ensures they can thrive in this traditional occupation, and our customers always get high quality and unique goods.
How would you describe your personal style?
Sophie believes theres no such thing as too much color, turquoise being a favorite.
Travis has inherited (borrowed) a closet full of awesomely funky vintage shirts from his dad and grandfather and is determined to bring back these rockin designs from America’s history.
What’s next for your company?
We are so excited for the future! We will continue to develop our work with the Kunas in Panama and Colombia, developing programs and involving more artisans. We are also working hard to bring new artisans into the Teysha community for this coming spring!