Finding and experiencing open air markets in the countries I’m visiting is one of my all-time favorite things to do while traveling! The sights, sounds, smells, and people inspire me in my soul. When I go on my Driftless Style sourcing trips to various countries, I am always looking to fill an extra suitcase with handmade products from these amazing open-air markets. The direct interactions with merchants and artisans, being able to experience the unique products up close, and the hustle and bustle of it all, keeps me grounded and inspired.
Join me, for a moment, in the Andes mountains, where Peruvian textiles are colorful and rich in their desire for cultural preservation. Driftless Style partners with several family-owned and operated artisan groups that weave, embroider, knit, crochet, and sew gorgeous handmade textiles that speak to both tradition and modern trends. Our artisan partners are located high in the mountains, in the city of Ayacucho, 10 hours from the capital city of Peru. They are committed to providing work and opportunities for men and women in extremely impoverished rural communities in their region. Training in the techniques of weaving and embroidery develops these artisans’ skills and improves their quality of life, while also preserving the art and history of Peruvian culture for future generations and the rest of the world.
A unique, and particularly inspiring, partnership Driftless Style has is with an artisan group whose founder’s mission is providing support to women who were victims of sexual and psychological abuse during the “era of terrorism” in Peru, in the 1980s. Their company is rapidly growing, now able to provide this support to a workforce numbering over 800 women from the regions of Ayacucho, Lima, and Cusco. Their products are made using high quality sheep wool and alpaca fleece, using a combination of traditional Andean design and modern western aesthetic.