Tell us a bit about your business
Páramo is a small British outdoor clothing company, based in East Sussex, started by Nick Brown in the early 1990s to turn his ideas about superior outdoor kit into a real product and business.
Through launching Nikwax in the 1970s, Nick had developed innovative fabric and footwear aftercare. Nick has always been a big enthusiast for the natural world so didn't want to include anything in his company’s products that might result in a negative environmental effect. The Nikwax aftercare products were the first to be water-based and not use aerosols – high performance and low impact.
In the mid 80’s Nick began experimenting with a new fabric technology, inspired by mammal fur, to make high performance, long-lasting, maintainable outdoor clothing without the need for laminates, membranes and taped seams, giving superior outdoor performance and comfort without built-in obsolescence. The new fabrics were tested in the Páramo region of the Andes in South America, a vegetation zone above the treeline which is pretty relentlessly cold and wet – a perfect testing ground!
When Páramo become a reality, Nick was looking for manufacturing capacity and was put into contact with a nun running a very small sewing workshop in Bogotá, providing practical training for vulnerable Colombian women. He linked up with the workshop and the rest is history! That small workshop which was an offshoot of a charity, the Miquelina Foundation, has become a high quality garment factory employing 200 women, training 400 women a year, looking after their children and providing housing and practical support.