A Once in a Lifetime Experience

Kate with Demesia and Augustin

BBC presenter Kate Humble with Demesia and Augustin

Calling this a once in a lifetime experience is probably understating it.

In January of this year, Threads of Peru was offered the unique opportunity to collaborate on a film being produced for the BBC, a film that would showcase the Andean lifestyle to reveal the full glory of its vast beauty and uncompromising harshness.

For five days, the crew from Indus Films, including BBC presenter Kate Humble, myself and a small team of Apus Peru staff braved the cold, rain and occasional snow to catch a real glimpse of what life was like for the alpaca herders in Chaullaqocha, one of Threads of Peru’s partner weaving communities. We were hosted by weavers Demesia Sinchi Echame and her mother-in-law Alejandrina Puma Churata while they and their families opened up their lives to us.

Kate with Demesia and two of her children, Luz Brenda and Maria Milagros

Kate with Demesia and two of her children, Luz Brenda and Maria Milagros

Weaving in Chaullaqocha

Weaving in Chaullaqocha

The film in question is a three-part series entitled “Wild Shepherdess” and examines the state of traditional herding practises throughout the world. Part 1 features one of the most traditional herding communities in the world in a remote corner of Afghanistan; Part 2 is centred on Peru, a country in transition yet steeped in history, where alpaca herding has been practised for centuries. The series culminates in Australia in Part 3 where modern sheep herding is practised with state-of-the-art technology and cutting edge science.

Chaullaqocha opens Part 2, arguably the more complex of the three Parts. The tension of competing worlds is palpable as Alejandrina, Demesia, her husband Augustín and his brother Tomás discuss in turns the hardships they face trying to raise their families on subsistence farming in Chaullaqocha and their hopes for a better future for their children. But there hangs in the air a wistfulness for traditions and a way of life in danger of being lost.

Demesia's daughter, Luz Brenda, carrying her brother Huayna Isaiah

Demesia’s daughter, Luz Brenda, carrying her brother Huayna Isaiah

The struggle of these families to balance traditional culture with the need to adapt to a changing economic picture is a metaphor for the entire country. Peru has one of the fastest growing economies in South America and is seen as a country ripe for investment, and poverty rates have been dropping in recent years. But for a country built on the legacy of a great empire – the mystery of which still defines the country in most people’s minds and sustains an $2.2 million tourism industry – how do you reconcile such pervasive cultural roots with newly emerging economic systems, infrastructure and global influences?

This dynamic balance is at the heart of what Threads of Peru is trying to achieve, and it is poignantly captured in Wild Shepherdess.

Kate before a herd of alpacas in Chaullaqocha

Kate before a herd of alpacas in Chaullaqocha

Wild Shepherdess with Kate Humble, Episode 2, Peru aired on BBC on June 28th 2013; check for repeat airings on your local networks or YouTube.

Make a statement with an Alpaca Scarf!

 

The qualities of alpaca are well known amongst the fashion industry – soft, luxurious, and an excellent natural fibre that is lighter than wool – and warmer too!


Once reserved for Incan royalty in South America, alpaca is now enjoyed the world over by discriminating fashionistas looking for a classic style.


At Threads of Peru, the alpaca fibre used is organic, and many of the scarves designed using the rich shades of brown, grey, black and white illustrate the natural variety of undyed alpaca fibre. The alpaca are also treated very kindly by their owners. The alpaca are free to roam around the Andean valley here they live. 

 

Stop by our eBay store or buy from us right on Facebook.

We’re also selling on the UK based ethical shop Eco Market.

 

 

 

 

How Alpaca makes me feel….

It’s wonderful to step into a room feeling that you look your best.  Perhaps you have had your hair done, or maybe you are wearing a new jacket – but you feel attractive and confident, you feel that the world is at your feet.

Wearing alpaca gives me that feeling.  I like stepping out into the world wearing alpaca, because of the way it makes me feel.

My Scarf and me in Melbourne

Ariana Svenson in Melbourne, wearing a Threads of Peru scarf.

I was in Melbourne recently for a series of business meetings.  Melbourne is a city perpetually in Autumn, with crisp days and scatterings of orange and red coloured leaves  – and so I dressed in a business like grey jacket teamed with a grey alpaca scarf…  As I shook people’s hands, I felt in control and confident.   The indigenous Peruvian design on the scarf was striking, different and unique –and so I felt that I was apart from the crowd before I had even started the meeting. That’s how alpaca makes me feel.

Winter weddings are so difficult to dress for, because most formal dresses are sleeveless and light, and I always feel it’s a shame to cover a gorgeous dress with a jacket – it somehow doesn’t feel right. But recently I tried out my beautiful purple and pink alpaca women’s poncho wrapped over a black gown and I felt like a million dollars. Alpaca is super warm, and it hugs your body in a way that feels like an embrace.  It drapes beautifully and I simultaneously felt elegant, stylish and yet snug. That’s how alpaca makes me feel.

A poncho from our new Autumn/Winter line

Now that summer is upon us in Australia, we have our monthly Farmer’s markets in our local town.  I picked out one of my larger tote bags, feeling good about myself because I was going out with an environmentally friendly, handmade organic product. Several times people admired the bag, touching the fabrics and the design – and it made me feel proud for making such a savvy choice. That’s how alpaca makes me feel. 

An ethical choice for your next shopping trip

Over the years, I have owned a number of different alpaca items – and whenever I have worn those items I have felt… special, elegant, regal, ethical, attractive, warm, caressed and amazing.

That’s how alpaca makes me feel. 

Ariana Svenson Co Founder