by Christina Parodi, Marketing & Communications Intern
As I sat in a circle with nineteen other women in our Kelkanka cooperative, I met our woman crush this Wednesday, Eustachia Huaman Zuniga. When she stood up and introduced herself to our new head designer Kate and I, her ability to overcome her initial shyness and speak up for herself is what really caught my attention. At 4,000 meters, our Kelkanka cooperative is located within a very isolated Andean community that is a two and a half hour drive into the mountains of rural Peru. Unsure of what to expect from my first visit, Eustachia’s bubbly personality took me by surprise with her genuine interest in who I was and how she could help me.
As Kate presented the women with new textile orders, Eustachia was the first to volunteer for one of the harder products, assuring Kate through our translator Mercedes that she would have the order completed to perfection within our short deadline. Although she only spoke Quechua, it was the unspoken gestures of placing her hand on mine and making direct eye contact as we spoke through Mercedes that made me feel a real connection within the time we spent together.
When I asked Eustachia what motivates her to work hard every day, she pointed to her heart and said mi corazon, my heart. She explained to me that it is necessary for her to find the motivation because without it, her family suffers. A mother of six, she spends her days cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, helping her husband with his farmwork the short periods of time he can acquire it and on top of all that weaves beautiful textiles for the Awamaki store.
As the main provider for her family, Eustachia works around the clock to make sure she can educate her children and take care of her parents when they get sick. Before Awamaki she struggled to sell her products to an unknown market of tourists and foreigners so far away from her own life and now, our store is very lucky to proudly display some of the beautiful textiles she has created.