October 12, 2007 Helping Peruvian Women Help Themselves



One of my favorite things about Peruvian Connection is a long and enduring commitment to our community of artisans. Since Annie’s first visit to Peru back in 1976, we’ve been proud to work with skilled craftswomen whose efforts are rewarded with good wages and clean, safe working conditions.

But sadly, these women are in the minority.

A staggering 70% of Peruvian women work in precarious conditions with low income and virtually no access to social benefits. Their best opportunity to earn money is to operate a small business. These women are willing to invest the long hours it takes to operate and grow their business, but without capital or training, survival is difficult … and success is rare.

Pro Mujer helps Peruvian women—and working women in Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Argentina—rise above the poverty line with access to micro-loans, basic business training and affordable healthcare services. We’re proud to support Pro Mujer Peru, a nonprofit organization that shares our philosophy of respect for other cultures, the fostering of artisan traditions, and ecological and economical sustainability.

If you’d like to help, you may make a tax-deductible donation to Pro Mujer on our site, or purchase a luxurious throw, the proceeds of which go directly to Pro Mujer. To learn more about Pro Mujer’s work, visit www.promujer.org.

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A Lost Art: Hand Embroidery

Narrow Confetti Bangles

I have a weakness for hand-embroidery. It seems it has become a lost art among today’s industrialized manufacturing and usually reserved for larger textiles. However, my appetite for this small handicraft has been appeased by our uncommon collection of embroidered accessories.

Our artisans begin by hand-weaving the fabric base for all our embroidered jewelry. Then once the small patch of fabric is framed, an artisan carefully begins to hand-stitch the pattern onto the fabric. Some are graphic pre-Columbian tribal patterns and others employ the more floral Spanish Colonial motif. Often they are accented with beads but all designs use satiny pima cotton threads as their medium. The detail is so finite and perfect; everyone pulls you closer just to take a discerning look.

I like to wear them with my favorite sweater and jeans. They are also a beautiful finishing touch when heading out for a night on the town. Just be prepared to stop and allow for spectators!

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September 21, 2007 Mystery Flower

I cannot explain why I am so obsessed with the mystery. Nor can I justify my time spent in the relentless search. However, the question still remains…..what is the flower depicted on our Exotica Skirt?

Mystery Flower detail from our Exotica Skirt
Mystery Flower detail from our Exotica Skirt

I spoke with the designer and she told me that it was inspired by a flower in a large 18th century French textile (see above). She did not know the exact botanical species except to offer that it looked tropical.

I searched hundreds of images on the internet to no avail. I contacted a retired horticulturist who also could not identify it. However, he did drop a heavy encyclopedia of tropical flowers on my desk. (insert thud)

Many blurry pages later I can only conclude that the flower must be an artist hybrid. A stylized combination of blooms. Perhaps a Water Lily combined with the flower of a Floss Silk Tree or a tropical Dahlia mixed with the pedals of an Iris.

I now pose the question to you, our blog audience. What do you think our exotic flower could be?

More flower themed knit skirts:

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September 19, 2007 It Made Her Cry!

I have to laugh when I see our Fiesta Pinafore dress – not because it is funny looking in any way but rather I recall the reaction given to it by our stylist last Spring when she saw it for the first time. Our stylist has many years of experience, working for clients as diverse as California Closets and Vogue en Español, and her wealth of experience carries significant weight to us. After a long day of showing her dozens of styles in need of revision we finally came to the Fiesta Pinafore. I’m not being dramatic when I say…she actually welled up! A single tear fell. Needless to say, she was pleased with the design and we were thrilled to have finally got it right. We still tease her about to this day.

It’s not too late. There are still some warm days left! Perhaps you will get the same reaction when you wear it.

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Banana Ears and Fuzzy Faces

Model wearing our Suri Alpaca and Wool Snow Drift Poncho poses with a camelid, a special guest at our last photo shoot in Peru
Model wearing our Suri Alpaca and Wool Snow Drift Poncho poses with a camelid, a special guest at our last photo shoot in Peru

On our recent photo shoot to Cuzco, Peru for our Holiday catalog, we had the pleasure to work in the company of a group of camelids. We were immediately in love. They were fuzzy and adorable in a multitude of colors from toffee, black and white spotted to simply pure white. Their Andean caretaker was kind enough to let us borrow them for the day, and with her herding and our patience, we managed to get a beautiful catalog spread. However, we were uncertain if our camelids models were alpacas or llamas.

Over the years we have been told by our camelid-raising customers that the way to tell them apart is that llamas have banana shaped ears and long tails and alpacas have straight ears and stubby tails. Also, alpacas tend to have furry faces and llamas have shorter hair on their faces. To further confuse us, alpacas and llamas sometimes cross-breed, yielding an animal called a huarizo. (Naughty camelids!)

Whatever our creatures were, they endeared us with their big eyes, beautiful coats and gentle demeanor (except for a bad-tempered one that spat at our crew!)

A piece of camelid trivia: one of the oldest alpacas on record, fondly called "Vomiting Violet" lived in New Zealand and died in 2005 at the ripe old age of 29.

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