For years, Páramo has been ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental and humanitarian ethics in the outdoor industry. In 2016, it became the first outdoor company to join the Greenpeace Detox commitment by eliminating PFC treatments from the entire product range. Before that, founder Nick Brown was already working on sustainable proofing treatments through Nikwax. And even further back, right at the genesis of the company, Nick found a way to manufacture his first garments while providing humanitarian aid for vulnerable women in Colombia through meaningful employment and skills training.
Now, the company has announced that its ownership is transferring to all of its employees, including the women within the Colombian scheme.
It took six years for Brown to find the right manufacturer for his garments, which he began testing in 1986. He came across ‘Creaciones Miquelina’ during a visit to Colombia in 1992, a small factory founded and run by Sister Esther Castaño Meija, the Mother Superior of Las Adoratrices, the international Christian group dedicated to the promotion and establishment of women’s rights. They arrived in Colombia in 1929 to “promote and liberate women marginalised and exploited by prostitution or trafficking victims and other situations that enslave them, at the same time offering them the possibility of a process of integration to the society of which it is an active part.”
It is with this ethos which Nick Brown aligned; Páramo was established in partnership with ‘Creaciones Miquelina’, and the two have worked together for thirty years. Since Páramo’s unique garment construction doesn’t rely on laminates, membranes, or taped seams, the women who pass through the programme at Miquelina become experts in their hand-stitching craft, gaining financial stability, confidence, and a valuable skillset, something all Páramo Partners are deeply proud of.
Madre Esther is now 93, Nick is 67. Searching for a way to protect what they’ve built and maintain their core values, Nick came across the concept of an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). By setting this up, Nick could effectively pass ownership to the employees, allowing them even more autonomy and ensuring that the principals they were founded on would be maintained. On February 1st, 2022, Páramo and Miquelina became an EOT.
“One thing that drives me to return to Bogotá and Miquelina time and again, is the extraordinary spirit of the ladies who make Páramo clothing”, said Nick. “A word that is used often in Miquelina is “superar” – it means to overcome and reach for new heights. But none of this could have happened without the dedication of the sisters who set up this project, and who really understand the meaning of love, and how to give selflessly”.
Páramo and their partners expect this move to be their next “superar” step to help them reach new heights.