Since its inception, Hampui Hats has been guided by the Quecha principle of Ayni—a relation between beings of sacred reciprocity, where the system is in a balance of give and take. Hampui means "Soul of mine, Return to me" in Quechua—the language spoken by Willee's first hat-making mentor in Bolivia. We believe that hats can be tools for transformation, serving as a vehicle to call back all the pieces of our Being and help heal our Relation to one another.
What does the name Hampui mean?
Hampui means "Soul of mine, Return to me" in Quechua—the language spoken the indigenous people of the Andes. It's a word that is asking for the parts of our soul that get lost through trauma to come back to ourselves.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw the most inspiration from the work of these indigenous artisans who I work with. It's a constant collaboration. They'll send me what they've been inspired to weave, and I'll turn that into hats. When I make hats for individuals, I'm also inspired by the person that I'm making the hat for. I try to tailor the hat to each specific person based on their face, eye color, even shoes that they wear and the vision that they have for their life.
Where do you source your materials from?
We use a blend of Marino wool from Northern Argentina and wool from curly haired sheep from Bolivia. When we blend them together, you get the softness from the Marino wool and the density from the curly haired sheep. The blended material is very soft but durable. We also use coypu fur. Coypu is the South American cousin of the beaver, and they are very invasive. We source their fur to create an incentive to eradicate the population that are decimating the swamps. We're one of the only small hat makers that use coypu fur, and we're very proud of it.
How would you describe your work in three words?
Restorative, prayerful, and playful.
What are you most excited about in the future?
I think there are really beautiful stories in these hats. I want to continue to touch more people, both the people wear the hats and the global communities that are being supported from these hats. We all love doing this. So I'm putting more energy into telling the story and getting the word out there.