Apologies — Isa and I have been very bad with sharing stories and photos from our long-lost trip to Peru in early December.

Aside from the obvious favorite spot (Machu Picchu), by far the most rewarding part of the trip was getting to take a tour with Annie and Emma from Awamaki up to Patacancha, where they work with women for the weaving project.

A couple of years ago (pre-Textile Arts Center and in a hurry to get out of a bad job) I was planning to spend 6 months in Ollantaytambo volunteering with Awamaki. Time passed, and suddenly Textile Arts Center was starting, and Awamaki moved to the back burner. Then, one day in October, Tara St. James of Study NY emailed me to introduce Annie to us. Tara had been work as a mentor to a new project, Awamaki Lab, where a fashion designer would spend a few months in Peru to create a capsule collection using traditional Peruvian designs, with the goal of training local women for production (and eventually design, as well)

I was so happy to be put back in touch with the organization, and thrilled that someone had taken the initiative with such a project there, that we immediately made plans to spend plenty of time in Ollantaytambo when we went to Peru. Annie generously let us join a tour, taking us up into the mountains — far from paved roads, toilets, electricity — to Patacancha.

(from the road, drive to Patacancha)

(standing in the valley, at Patacancha)

We were shown what Awamaki had set up for the community of families (several small structures; the first working toilet in the area) and went through their processes of spinning, natural dyeing and backstrap weaving. The group of women, who ranged in age, then each took out their individual work, from which Awamaki places orders to sell in the Fair Trade store in Ollanta.

Starting with our wait at 6am in Ollanta’s main plaza, we got to see the inner workings of the small town. While Ollanta is quite touristy, being one of the main stops in the Sacred Valley, getting to see the more day to day operations of the people in Ollanta, as well as neighboring village, was absolutely incredible.

(5am, Heart Cafe in Ollantaytambo)

And NOW… Annie, Awamaki Lab, and Nielli Vallin get to share their hard work at their launch party/pop up shop.

Join us, and many others, to celebrate the launch of the first capsule collection by Nielli Vallin tomorrow night:

January 20, 7-10PM

208 Bowery St, 2nd Floor (between Prince + Spring)

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