@pakasweaters // Peru
“I was tired, cranky, and feeling alone as I headed over the Andes on a bus to the Pacific coast. We passed into a more native district, and I watched Peruvian women lugging massive bushels of whatever they’d grown, sewn, or made to sell on the streets that day. I saw their kids sleeping on plastic bags, and for the first time, I cued into their frequency. They did this every morning, and I was complaining about having to wake up early to fall back asleep on a bus. I dozed off thinking of the elderly woman who sold me her handmade alpaca wool sweater…her cracked and weathered hands and the radiance in her face when I bought it.”
“Paka began when I bought a one-way flight to Cusco this summer. I started scanning local markets for unique designs, communicating with weavers in my rusty Spanish. I was trying to locate the authenticity I’d felt on that bus ride – where the sweater truly came from. I was referred from one person to another, busing nine hours outside of Cusco in search of a name that was written on a sheet of paper. I took a dingy out to an island on Lake Titicaca with a Quechua native to learn about the ancient “Tocapu” designs. I hitchhiked to a town called Chincerro to learn about the alpaca wool dying process.
There was a parasite that grew on a cactus, and when crushed, it released a majestic purple. I began to see the sweater as an evolution of knowledge from the Inca, centered around a mutual relationship with the people and the Earth. It felt raw and divine.”
“Three weeks later, I stumbled into a small Cusqueñan shop and met Gregoria, a Peruvian grandmother. She was so proud to introduce me to her family of textile-designers. I’d tried on hundreds of sweaters by then, but this style was different. It fell on my shoulders better than any other piece of clothing. Ideas sparked, and I spent time at their simple, remote home every day. I would cook eggs for the kids while working on designs with the family, and we had the idea of each sweater telling a part of the story.
Since then, we’ve brought more Peruvian women weavers into our team, providing them with the resources to share their talent while they financially empower themselves.”
“Everything that we use, from the dyes to the alpaca wool, is 100% natural, rooted in thousands of generations. The sweaters are an evolved knowledge of the Inca/Quechua people. The “tejedor,” weaver, is a dying art, seemingly outdated in modern Peru; yet, there is so much more depth and potential in the culture. We’re striving to create a global market for alpaca wool and provide the resources to financially empower these women. It’s already creating a tangible impact in their families, as well as on a connected level (that people in other hemispheres are appreciating their work).”
“PAKA creates a standard above fair trade. We’re providing Peruvian women who are naturally gifted weavers with the resources to share their talent with the world while financially empowering themselves. Our vision is to create a global market and appreciation for Peruvian alpaca products, liberating local artists. When you buy a sweater, you’re inspiring talent, artistry, and creating a visible, tangible impact. Become a part of our story, and make it happen.” -Kris Cody (founder)
Check out the current Fall & Winter collection, as new designs are on the way!
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