Huaywasi, Then and Now
Posted on 31 July 2016
Since the beginning, Huaywasi has been a grassroots, community driven initiative. In 2009, when Huaywasi's umbrella non-profit, The Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI), starting working in Huaycán, local and international volunteers began interacting with women in Huaycán via educational workshops with LLI's Women's Empowerment Program.
While closer looks at Huaycán showed deficiencies in the areas of education, gender equality, and financial stability, they showed an abundance of knowledge in the fields of artistic creation and artisan traditions. The idea of using artisan skills as a means of generating female empowerment started to sound like a pretty realistic formula.
Little by little, the Huaywasi artisan project began taking off. Some of the artisans came to LLI workshops already possessing their skill, and others, like Huaywasi ceramicist Saida, for example, first learned their skills by attending workshops. Regardless of whether an artisan has been at her craft for 15 years or 15 days, there is always space to improve and expand that skill knowledge. That is why Huaywasi artisans are required to attend at minimum one educational workshop per month. Most of them, if they can find time in their busy schedules, enjoy attending several workshops per month.
What makes Huaywasi different than any other artisan market in Peru or abroad?
- Huaywasi artisans are paid a fair wage for their labor.
- Huaywasi is not just a business, it is an initiative designed to bring financial stability, education, and empowerment to a developing community.
- Huaywasi products are hand-made. Staff members often hear comments such as, “Oh so like, you guys just buy the sweatshirt and then the artisan puts the Andean fabric in the hood?” No! It all starts from a piece of fabric, then the artisan cuts and sews it just right. Talk about some good energy going into the clothes you’re buying!
- Huaywasi products are one-of-a-kind. The Program Director works individually with each artisan to design unique products that you cannot find anywhere else.
- Huaywasi is constantly refining and expanding its product inventory. It is Huaywasi’s mission to create products that stay true to Peruvian culture, but also are wearable and functional throughout all parts of the world.
Huaywasi artisans and staff members are extremely proud to take this next step of launching an online store. More Huaywasi products sold = better wages for women in Huaycán = financial and social empowerment = real change.