What initially made you decide to go to Peru? /
Was it specifically to start an alpaca yarn company or was it vacation?
I’ve said many times in the past 4 years that at 22 years old, I was offered my dream job on a silver platter. After submitting 50+ job applications and only having 2 interviews in 2013, I accepted the position of director of operations for Threads of Peru in Cusco. My parents were thrilled!
Threads of Peru is a not-for-profit social enterprise that connects the world to handmade treasures of the Andes, helping to strengthen ancient craft techniques and empower artisans.
I had just come back from Peru, finishing up an archaeology internship with Stanford University in the central Andes, and had only studied textiles from an antique perspective. Two weeks after accepting the position, I was launched into working with the living, breathing practitioners of this 5,000-year-old tradition. To say the very least, I fell in love with the Threads artisan family and my adoptive home.
How did you meet the women that you work with in Cusco?
I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of weavers through Threads of Peru but one family in particular has become like my own. Pichinku is beginning production with only two incredibly beautiful and talented sisters – Angela and Santusa – from the Andean community, Totora. In addition to having an awe-inspiring knowledge of traditional dyeing, they are hands down some of the most accomplished artisans in the Cusco region. When asked, they will be the first to share how deeply they appreciate that their mother and grandmothers patiently taught them these skills, that they passionately feel obligated to continue practicing.
How long have you been traveling back and forth?
While pursuing my bachelor’s degree at PSU-University Park, I participated in many international travel opportunities, beginning with 6 months studying abroad in Brazil in 2010. I returned to Brazil the following summer on grant from the Matson Museum of Anthropology, and then to Peru after graduating in 2012 as an archaeology intern with Stanford. My “plan” had always been to go back to Brazil but things went a bit off track after accepting my position with Threads!
Before the Kickstarter launched, how long were you working and planning for Pichinku?
It seems like a totally romanticized version of the story, but I remember waking up in April 2016 with an almost complete vision for Pichinku, even our logo!