"We are like little spiders and we're weaving a story with our art that will be told by future generations."
"I'm Maritza Pacori and I was born in the Puno region of Peru. My parents are entrepreneurs who work in agriculture,... livestock and handicrafts.
"I studied accounting and finance at the university and afterward, I took courses in a variety of craft techniques. Ever since I was a child, I've liked textiles. My father, seven sisters and I would help spin yarn to knit blankets, gloves, hats, sweaters, ponchos and more. Spinning was a game for us and we'd have contests. The winner would get lots of kisses from our mom and dad.
"After I didn't get into the university, I started to learn about crafts and discovered I liked knitting. By the time I was 19, I began teaching courses on dye techniques in a remote area where vicunas and alpacas are raised. Ever since that time, I've been teaching Quechua and Aymara women how to knit and create new designs. They learn everything they need to successfully work and train others, from taking and documenting orders to designing and quality control.
"The saddest day in my life was the day I found out my mother had advanced arthritis and no one knew what to do. Thank God, my father had gotten a job that offered insurance and my mother has been receiving treatment. I've set out to support my mother and studied accounting at night while working during the day. I always told my sisters that there's nothing impossible if we want to accomplish our dreams. That's why my friends describe me as a dreamer, creative, enterprising and responsible.
"When I finished my studies, I set up my own workshop and, along with my sisters and a neighbor, we started to develop textile designs and participate in different projects. We collaborate with companies and organized a knitting service with more than 100 partners. They knit, weave and crochet items like finger puppets, ornaments, accessories and apparel.
"The moments that have impacted me are when I'm teaching, directing, knitting, creating new designs, looking for inspiration in color palettes, creating textures, remembering our ancestral techniques, listening to how the artisans first got into knitting, weaving and improving our techniques. When we're in my workshop, all of us laugh and joke while working as a team to fill orders. I tell them, 'We are like little spiders and we're weaving a story with our art that will be told by future generations.'
"We use alpaca, baby alpaca, hand-spun alpaca, cotton and anything else our customers want. Our yarn is spun by hand in communities where alpacas are raised.
"It's wonderful that the artisans are able to work while looking after their families. They can keep an eye on the children while knitting, crocheting and weaving.
"Our plan is to keep growing and to sell our work in different markets around the world to buyers who value artisan clothing.
"It's satisfying to know people like our textiles. Our inspiration is all around us — through travel, flowers, dreams, traditions... We seek to distinguish ourselves with our designs, quality and timeliness, knitting trendy apparel that preserves our ancestral techniques."