Meet Fie!

Meet Fie!

We have brought to you many artisan profiles, now it’s our staff’s turn to get a little spotlight. We want you to learn more about the amazing women who work on the ground in Ollantaytambo. Take a few minutes today to learn about our Sales and Production Coordinator, Fie.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am from London, England. I’m from a small village outside of London and I went to university in Northern England, University of Huddersfield where I studied Fashion and Textile buying, management and retail.

During my time studying I became interested in sustainability within the fashion industry, particularly from a social context. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the potential presence of audit fraud within ethical trade in garment factories. There’s now an industry around that where you can do it fraudulently. There are companies that will fake your books, especially in China, or will train your workers to give correct answers and hide your safety controls.

Following that, I did a masters in ethical fashion at the University for the Creative Arts, Epsom. One of my focuses there was looking at homeworking within the commercial fashion industry. Homeworking involves people that are not located in a central factory, but rather work from home. During my masters I worked for the Ethical Trading Initiative in London. It’s multi stakeholder organization that bring together retailers and NGOs to work collaboratively to make positive impacts within commercial supply chains. Then, I started working for a clothing company called Monsoon in London, and I worked in buying for seven years.

I ended up here, at Awamaki, accidentally. I took a sabbatical from my job to travel around South America. I was planning to volunteer for one month and then I liked it so much that I quit my job, planned to volunteer a little longer and then was offered the position.

How long have you been with Awamaki?

Technically since April 2018. I started becoming a full employee in mid May.

What do you do at Awamaki?

I’m the Sales and Production Coordinator. I have quite a varied role. For the sales aspect, a lot of what I do is building relationship with clients or potential clients either internationally or locally within Cusco. I work on managing all those orders alongside the production team and doing outreach as well, meeting with potential clients. I manage the store in Ollanta and custom orders too.

I also do a lot of sales analysis, both for the store in Ollanta and for our wholesale. As well as any ad-hoc analysis if we need to do any decision making. When we’re developing the wholesale collection, I work very closely with the designer. When she’s here, we work on looking at pricings as well as working together to build a commercial collection that will generate income for Awamaki.

What is your favorite Peruvian food?

Taquenos (a delicious fried cheese wrapped in a wanton and usually dipped in guacamole).

What is your favorite thing about living in Ollantaytambo?

Two things: the mountains, I think we live in THE most beautiful town in the world, but what I think makes Ollanta so special for me and what has made my time here so special is the incredibly inspiring women I’ve met along the way.

Do you have a story of event that stands out about living here?

Probably when I ran into a cactus. When I was in Arequipa, I was walking a little too chipper, too perky, too enthusiastically and I swung my hand in a very large cactus. I had to ask some friendly builders to help me pull it out of my hand because it was so embedded. My hand would regularly swell for the following few months.

What do you think the most important thing for empowering women is?

I think education is a key factor in empowerment, both in formal settings but also learning through conversations with friends or peers. With more knowledge, self-confidence can build which can in turn give women the power to be their own decision makers in all aspects of their and their families’ lives.

What is the most interesting thing on your desk?

Probably my weaving. Oh… and a lime!

Do you have a fun fact?

I can’t bend my arm back to my shoulder.

Have you read anything recently that you’ve really enjoyed?

Chilenas Rebeldes by María José Cumplido is really great!

Enough by Will David was really interesting. I also liked Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

What would you name your autobiography?

Girls Who Hike by Fie Williams.

What’s your favorite product from the Kay Pacha line?

The Inti Tote Bag, because I like the reason behind the textile. The quatro estacas idea came from the traditional textile that the artisans use to make coca leaf offerings and offerings to pachamama (Mother Earth). The tradition four square pattern is ancient, spiritual and super important. The way they are traditionally made is with this double sided textile, which takes a lot more yarn and a lot more time. Only older women in some the communities know how to do it and the women from Kelkanka, because the community is so much more isolated from town.

And your favorite quote?

“Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.” -Anne Klein

Finally, what is your spirit animal?

Mountain Goat.

About Awamaki

Awamaki is a nonprofit fair trade social enterprise dedicated to connecting Andean artisan weavers with global markets. We collaborate with women artisans to support their efforts towards educational and financial independence by co-creating beautifully handcrafted knit and woven accessories using hertiage techniques.