Threads of Peru Blog

Threads of Peru Welcomes Lydia Estes!

Lydia Estes

Lydia Estes joins Threads of Peru between semesters during her study abroad year. "Growing up around strong and creative women partly influenced my enthusiasm about all things female empowerment, bridging cultures through art, and sustainable and fair-trade fashion, as well. When I learned about Threads of Peru, I was convinced it perfectly blended my focuses and would provide a distinct perspective on the topic compared to what I’ve found so far in the Southern Cone."  

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Threads of Peru Adopts a New Photographer/Social Media Volunteer Mariah Krey for the Summer!

Mariah, originally from Minnesota, first stumbled upon TOP last summer while she was searching for a way to combine her interests into meaningful work. She is currently a business school student studying Entrepreneurship & Marketing in Washington State, and spends most of her free time in the studio fostering her passions for photography and fibers.
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Volunteering with Threads Part 2: Lessons from the Communities

My first invitation to visit a community that Threads of Peru works with came a couple of weeks after I started volunteering two mornings a week in the Cusco office.

The visit quickly disabused me of any notions I had had of how the textiles are made. I suppose I had thought, not very thoughtfully, that the process would be a more rustic version of a western association of weaving hobbyists. It is much more complicated and intricate than that.

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Volunteering with Threads Part 1: Weft and Warp: Working in Two Cultures

It all started over a beer at a fund-raiser in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, near Cusco.

That afternoon, all the micro-brewery’s profits went in support of the non-profit, Threads of Peru. When I met the organization’s director of operations, Dana, a sassy young anthropologist who works with local weavers, I asked if I could volunteer. (I’d been keeping an eye out for volunteer work involving textiles and supporting women.)

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A (slightly belated!) 2012 New Years Message

Thoughts at the beginning of 2012 “How did I end up writing the New Year message?” I wonder, as I ponder whether a New Year’s message is about the past or the future… and whether its even a New Years message, when you are writing it more than 30 days into the New Year.

Regardless, I forge on deciding a New Years Message can be about both the past and the future.

2011 was a big year for us, as we employed a fantastic Cusco based Project Manager, Amanda Zenick, and were blessed with the talents of two great volunteers, Fani Karaivanova, Textile Project Assistant & Community Liaison and Frankie Ginnett Assistant Volunteer Coordinator & Project Assistant who have all contributed to advancing the project considerably.

Here you can see Amanda Zenick and Fani Karaivanova working hard to measure everything at the entrega

Here you can see Amanda Zenick and Fani Karaivanova working hard to measure everything at the entrega

The idea of having more people “hands on deck” is to relieve the pressure and hours worked on the founders, who are still completely voluntary. What actually happened is that the Founders moved onto new projects, including spreading the marketing of the project further!

This year our Ebay store was absolutely beautiful, thanks to the design talents of Angie Hodder and Adam Foster Collins, and of a number of photographers in Cusco, including volunteer Lynn Dao. In 2012 we will be expanding into an Ethical Community store and hope in the not too distant future to have our own store on our website!

We also should make special note of our patient Master weaver, Daniel Sonqo who put in a sensational year’s work, enduring our requests for different styles and dimensions, and then transforming these requirements into beautiful weavings with the women of our different weaving groups.

Here you can see Daniel giving a talk to the women in Chaullacocha at the pedido, he is asking them what they would like to weave. Due to the heavy rain this talk takes place inside the greenhouse!

Here you can see Daniel giving a talk to the women in Chaullacocha at the pedido, he is asking them what they would like to weave. Due to the heavy rain this talk takes place inside the greenhouse!

As I look back over the year, there are many small and large successes, but in short – we have achieved a lot and have a lot of people to thank, not the least everyone who “put their money where their mouth is” and supported us by buying a fair trade weaving.

Each year the Project takes a weather directed hiatus for several months (January and February) as it’s difficult, if not impossible, to access the communities where we work. So currently we are busy planning, budgeting and dreaming about what we can create for the project in 2012. In general terms – we would like our women to continue improving their weavings, and for us to sell more of their weavings, which will in turn bring a better quality of life to their remote communities.

An example of one of the beautiful ponchos made this year by the women we work with.

An example of one of the beautiful ponchos made this year by the women we work with.

Happy New Year everyone!

Ariana Svenson, Co- Founder

Interview with Adam Foster Collins - a founder of Threads of Peru

1) What has been your most culture shocking moment whilst in the communities?
The most culture-shocking moment for me was when we were received in Rumira Sondormayo in the cold rain with a welcome dinner which consisted of a plastic laundry basket filled with about 20 types of potato; boiled and whole, accompanied with one hard-boiled egg; warm and still in the shell. As a special treat, we were also offered a dish of salt to add to the food. So there we all were, cold and wet. Eleven of us sat huddled in the darkened interior of a mud brick hut munching on the potatoes and eggs. And honestly, I have to admit, it was one of the greatest tasting and most memorable meals of my life.
A picture of Adam at Machu Picchu2) What inspires you to work for Threads of Peru? As a designer, I’m inspired by the idea that design thinking can be applied to any set of problems to the benefit of the situation - not only that, it MUST be applied. Even if the people involved are not “designers” as a profession. Design is the key to human beings figuring out how to move from a situation that they’re not satisfied with, to one that does satisfy them. Threads of Peru requires that we think about everything from human dynamics, to business management, to marketing and graphic design. The range of issues and the challenges they present - all aimed at the preservation and promotion of indigenous culture in Peru - is what I find so interesting.
3) What's your favourite Peruvian food?
I really enjoy the fresh salsa that often accompanies meals in Peru. I also really love coca tea with mint.
4) And your least favourite Peruvian food (and why?)
Not so much a food, but a drink - coffee. It’s very difficult to find coffee prepared the way I am accustomed to (and addicted to) at home.
5) In your opinion where is the best spot in Cusco for visiting?
The restaurants and Churches surrounding the Plaza de Armas (Central Square) in Cusco are nice to visit, and I love the square at night; the way the city lights of the residential area are visible on the mountainsides above - like stars. Also the San Blas area, which is within walking distance of the Plaza, is full of interesting shops and local art and crafts.
The Plaza at night, lit up with the Christmas decorations!6) Describe the happiest/most touching moment you have experienced in the communities? For me, it was the first time we went to the communities, which the culmination of a design class project in Canada. Eleven students made the journey, and to finally find ourselves there with the weavers in the mountains for the first time was an experience I’ll never forget. It was snowing heavily for a while, and it was beautiful.
7) Your strangest/funniest moment from living in Peru?
Trying really hard to communicate in Spanish to an elderly woman at the market about spices I was looking for, and having her suddenly get exasperated with me and huff, “No Ingles! No entiendo!” (Until then, I thought I was doing pretty well...)
8) Biggest achievement so far?
For me, it has been to see the whole structure set up; from weaving workshops and buying in the communities, to the online store and the vast internet information site,  shipping and positive customer feedback from all over the world. It has required an incredible amount of work and creative energy to set up all of this infrastructure, and to see the structure finally functioning end-to-end is a great achievement for so few people to have built.
9) Finally, whats the main thing you wish to achieve in the next five years?
To be a fully self-sustaining organisation. To see the women’s sewing skills improve so that we can introduce more contemporary product design to our inventory, which will require more complex sewing.
Adam is a Graphic and Communication Designer, living and working in Halifax, Canada. Besides working as a professional Designer, he has been a teacher of Design for almost ten years. His interest in bringing Design thinking to bear on socioeconomic issues led to the creation of Project Peru, and to the collaborative development of Threads of Peru.