#WomanCrushWednesday: Mercedes


by Christina Parodi, Marketing & Communications Intern

Going on her fourth year at Awamaki, our woman crush this Wednesday is Mercedes Durand, who works directly with our women’s cooperatives.

Through the long-term relationships she has established with the women, Mercedes coordinates the work each woman does and helps order the textiles we need from them. Fluent in both Spanish and Quechua, she goes into the communities with the ability to fully understand the needs of the women, even if they do not speak Spanish, and relay accurate information back to Awamaki.

When she’s in the communities, you can always hear Mercedes’ laugh followed by the giggles of the Quechua women, radiating positive energy as they continue to build their trust, exchanging jokes and stories. As we spoke of her time at Awamaki, Mercedes made it clear to me that the best part of her job is the impact the women have on her life. Her motivation to work hard is the difference she has made and continues to make in the communities we work with.

Originally from Urubamba, Mercedes grew up in the Sacred Valley, still here today to give back as much as she can to the place she grew up. She loves working with the women who live in the surrounding communities and the opportunities Awamaki has given them, knowing how much better off they are economically because of our help. Married with two sons, Mercedes helps send both of her children to school to make sure they have a bright future ahead of them, one studying engineering in college and the other still in high school.

As she posed for photos and we tried to pick the perfect spot, she joked about how the first photo I took was in front of the recycling bin and that this was perfect because she could now encourage the people who see it to recycle. With her playful sense of humor, she knows how to brighten up everyone’s day in the office, and when she walks away from you there is no doubt that she has left a smile on your face.

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.