(by Rosa Chang)
In the women´s history month - March 2022, I need to share with you this amazing story that demonstrates the power, solidarity and generosity of women when we really want to do amazing things.
What we propose is what we achieve!
At Blossom Inspirations, we always say that if we can change the life of at least one artisan, we have done our job. It is tough to change their vulnerable conditions, the different factors that hold them from progress and prosperity, but we can support them to pursue, persist and fight harder for their dreams and a better future for them, their family and their community.
As I mentioned before, the way that I met Alcira, who handmade our mask in Arpillera technique, was virtually through social media and in the middle of the pandemic in July 2020. Since then, all our interactions has been remotely, by chat or by phone. Therefore, when I talk that technology is a driver for inclusion, Alcira is proof, because all the Arpillera line of products that we have now, have been planned, coordinated, and aligned remotely, without knowing Alcira in person.
Our relationship started remotely based on trust, support, and accountability to create Arpillera masks, art and ornaments and with the intention to support her as a single mother of 2 kids, who works in extreme vulnerable conditions of housing, electricity, water, outskirt of Lima.
As humans, we are social and have the necessity to socialize, empathize, interact. Therefore, during my trip to Peru in 2021, I couldn’t lose the chance to meet Alcira in person after all the work that we have done together.
Alcira is “the woman” who leads the “Olla Comun”, collecting donations, food, and money to cook for her community in Pamplona Alta. She brings meals, clothes and any urgent needs to more than 100 families. She is the woman who gave us the chance to understand her sustainable work: reusing and recycling donated clothes in her Arpillera products while the rest of the clothes, she donates to her community.
During my time in Lima (3 weeks), I brought with me donated clothes from friends and family in USA and collected also more unwanted clothes from my family, friends and neighbors in Peru with the intention to surprise Alcira with these donations for her work in Arpillera technique and for her community.
I scheduled my appointment to go to my favorite place Kuchi Salon as I usually do for my hair dress and treatments when I’m in Lima. This is my special place, because I met @Kuchisalon , the woman owner, more than 25 years ago, when I just started my professional career working at IBM Peru. She had just migrated from Dominican Republic to Peru and was looking for better opportunities. She was dealing with the challenges of being an entrepreneur and also immigrant woman of color in Peru. She rented a small place to start her tiny hair dress business at that time and learned to deal with a different culture, system and society. Nowadays, she is a very influential and successful woman, with an exclusive salon-spa. She is an influencer of trends and fashion in Peru on TV programs, in magazines and social media.
She is loved by many different women and artists, and I had the privilege to have her in the most important events of my life: taking care of me and my first impression for my first jobs, my university graduation, important parties, my wedding, etc. So every time that I visit Lima, it is a mandatory stop, where we catch up and share our fears, challenges, and progress.
So, I decided that this is going to be the place to meet Alcira in person, to pick up the first Christmas Tree skirt in Arpillera technique, to give her the donated clothes, to offer her a hair dress service and the opportunity to meet Kuchi too, who could inspire her as a role model to follow.
It was a very emotional reunion, considering the lack of socialization and precaution that everybody had during the pandemic and with Peru still struggling to vaccinate the population. Of course, when we met, we both cried, chatted and prepared her for a hair treatment as my gift. But then the most beautiful things happened around her. All the workers from Kuchi Salon started talking about Alcira’s story and her challenging life during the pandemic. And in addition to the hair treatment, Kuchi’s staff offered her a free make over – haircut, styling, manicure, and makeup.
It was amazing to observe the power of women, how we support each other without considerations of income segments, races, colors. I could see through the solidarity, detachment and generosity of Kuchi’s staff, how they tried to make her feel comfortable at the salon and support her to gain more confidence
and self-teem. It was also amazing to see Alcira so happy and excited that she would finally meet her idol Kuchi, who she usually watches and listens for all her recommendations in social media.
Thank you Fair Trade Federation & Chicago Fair Trade for educating us on how to empower people, woman and a more equal world.
While waiting for Kuchi to arrive and to meet Alcira, she was saying: “I’m going to faint, please pinch me so that I know I’m not dreaming.” The rest of the story is in the attached pictures where you can see all the emotions coming out that day.
Happy Women’s Day! Together, we achieve more! Together we are more!