It is with some sadness, and much anticipation we farewell Dana Blair from her role as Director of Operations in Cusco. Over the past 4 years she has very much become the ‘face’ of Threads of Peru and an important part of our team. We are delighted that she will be staying on with Threads in voluntary capacity, much like the other Executive Board members and that she is using much that she learned with her time with Threads of Peru to build her own business working with Andean artisans that we know and love. Dana shared story with us here:
“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. Well, at least I thought it was. Oddly enough, not many people in my life want to live at 12,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes! Nor do they believe that warping textiles in the rain, eating steaming piles of potatoes or hitching rides on cargo trucks loaded with alpacas is “fun.” No matter, I always did and still do!
My name is Dana and since 2013, I have been working for Threads of Peru in Cusco, first as Project Coordinator and as Director of Operations by 2015, as our on-the-ground team grew. When I arrived, our “team” was just me in the corner of the Apus Peru office, with Founders supporting me from a distance in Canada and Australia. Of course with the company of ~60 artisans too, off in the distant hills!
TOP is still cozy and familial, but has grown to a network of 138 artisans! Since 2013, we have worked with over 60 clients around the world, and have seen a four-fold increase in sales. There have been countless overtime hours, late-night meetings to accommodate different time zones, transport strikes and climactic weather, not to mention actually warping textiles in the rain. And without thinking twice, I would do it all over again!
I’ve always been the “wanderer” in my family, fascinated by world travel, people and culture. I came to TOP with an Anthropology BA and years of working with cultural artifacts in museums and on archaeological sites. But I didn’t want my work to be tied down to records and storage cabinets.
My passion is to preserve world heritage by investing in the living, breathing people that carry on traditional practices today. In making them economically viable, we better ensure that they will survive, and support the well-being of artisans and their families. Threads of Peru is founded on these values, which effectively extended my “one year contract” into 4 years
In December, ToP welcomed Ligia Gomez as Project Coordinator in Cusco, and I resigned as Director of Operations. But I couldn’t imagine “breaking away” completely! After all, Threads of Peru has become part of my family. While enjoying time with my family in Pennsylvania, I continue to support ToP part-time and will for many years to come.
What’s next? Although many loved ones would prefer to have me closer to home, I’ve fallen deeply in love with Cusco, Peruvian culture and working with artisans. Always the dreamer, I began dreaming of other possibilities to combine ancient practices with modern products, all of which boiled down to YARN!
This past week, and with the empowering support of my TOP family, I launched the crowdfunding campaign my new business, Pichinku Naturally Dyed Peruvian Yarn on Kickstarter. I'm excited about this new venture and eager to share my progress with ToP and its supporters, too!
I could not be more grateful to have been part of the Threads of Peru ship, and rising through the ranks to Director of Operations during these past 4 action-packed years, growing by leaps in both my personal and professional lives. It’s time for me to embark on another Peru adventure but I won’t be far from “home” in Cusco!"
Good Luck Dana!