Threads of Peru: Weaving new economic opportunities

Each Saturday, a food truck climbs up the only road to the community of Chaullacocha and sets up a seemingly impromptu market offering fresh fruits and vegetables, packaged foods and sweets. Local families make the trip from their houses from all corners of Chaullacocha to make their weekly purchases. This is where you will find the community that lies at the heart of Threads of Peru.

I have been with Threads of Peru since March of 2013 and I’ve been involved in almost every aspect of the organization. We’re a nonprofit  that gives a voice to the traditional, handwoven fabrics of the Peruvian high Andes. We work with 80 indigenous artisans who hand-make beautiful textiles. Our passionate and dedicated team then take these wares to international markets so they can be sold sustainably.

Sustainability is our key purpose – we want all revenue to go back into supporting the local community. This way we can help them develop more economic opportunities, particularly for women who are almost entirely dependent on their partners’ income, and ensure the ancient tradition of Quechua weaving will continue to be practiced for future generations.

Organic fashion statements

Each association of weavers wears a different style of clothing and weaves a unique set of designs. For example in Uppis and throughout the Ausangate region they wear flat-topped monteras accompanied by flowing black skirts that feature a smaller, brightly-colored trim (called “golon”).

Threads of Peru

In Peru there is such an awe-inspiring history of artisan practice that is so important to preserve and help pass on a knowledge of the practice. Since I have worked here, I have sadly witnessed the slow decline of crafts like back-strap weaving because of the pressures of urbanization and industrialization which communities here cannot compete with.

At times it can be frustrating and discouraging with the incredible strain of working in the high Andes – the inclement weather, impassable roads, and cultural mistranslations, to name but a few – but these difficulties make every small step towards a brighter future for the local community even more gratifying. Sustainability can only be achieved by supporting the economic and cultural infrastructure already in place. We believe the best approach is to have local presence that allows us to interact with communities we work with, which is exactly what we do.

Threads of Peru 2

We dub our work structure as “organic”, with team members living in the high Andes, the USA, Canada and Western Australia. Working with teams across the globe in different timezones presents an interesting challenge when trying to accommodate for differing schedules. Podio has enabled us to overcome this and collaborate effectively as we are able to share and store documents, create profiles, schedule meetings and make comments – all in real time – no matter what corner of the world we’re in.

We’re passionate about combining bright minds together with generations of artistic knowledge and applying expertise on international markets along with a keen desire to do good in the world. We have created not only a competitive business, but also self-sustaining support toward greater socio-economic equality and cultural identity. It’s a win-win!

Join the threads

How can you be part of these small changes that we hope will change the world? Connect with us online, through our website and social media platforms, and help spread the word to family and friends.

Every purchase of an entirely unique, handwoven textile – no matter how big or small – directly and positively impacts the well-being of an indigenous artisan in the high Andes of Peru!