Artisan Organization: Ana Fernandez
"I was born February 13, 1984 in the sierra of Hu√°nuco, where I grew up with my six brothers and sisters. From an early age, our parents taught us to be proud of our origins, to live simply and realize the value of work as a way to get ahead in life. My father was orphaned as a boy and he has worked hard ever since.
"I remember when I was seven, my family took part in the traditional town fiestas that celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. There are special church services and performances by the masked dancers of La cofrad√≠a de los negritos de Hu√°nuco who wear velvet costumes embroidered with strands of silver and gold. Some years later, my parents wanted us to know more about these dancers and took us to their village where we were delighted by the customs.
"The townspeople were quite ingenious in creating their clothing and for the first time in my life, I saw how a fiber becomes yarn that is transformed into a warm sweater. Mothers knit the sweaters themselves for their loved ones, knitting virgin wool in the wonderful combinations of colors and textures they learned from their own moms. I also saw how they wove blankets on a handloom, then used these to wrap their babies and carry them on their backs as the women worked in the fields while taking care of their children.
"When I was a girl, my mother noticed that I liked design, so she took me to different workshops where I could practice drawing and painting. When I finished school, I planned to study graphic design but when I learned we had a fashion institute, I decided to change my major.
"I enrolled and began learning the basics of fashion design while, at the same time, studying international commerce. But I didn't finish, because I had to find work.
"Over the following years, I worked for several textile businesses that created apparel with natural fiber fabrics, and I fell in love with knitted and crocheted designs. You can do so much with the most varied stitches!
"When I discovered my passion for knits, I decided to follow my dream of working on my own. I met my business partner, Juan Carlos, who had a lot of experience in operating a textile workshop. We decided to work together.
"At first, we created styles for babies and children. Then we branched into alpaca wool and cotton clothing for adults.
"For me, designing is a fusion of ideas. It begins with the creative stage that blends fashion trends with my own favorite sources of inspiration, which are Victorian textiles and our Peruvian culture. In my designs, these influences result in colorful apparel in geometric and paisley motifs created with different knitting techniques. The cut enhances the beauty of each design.
"I love designing apparel of alpaca wool and cotton because this really makes a contribution to society. It lets me give jobs to local people, especially women who want to get ahead and move to central Peru seeking a better future.
"Thanks to all of you who appreciate my designs. Each one is the work of a team of more than 20 artisans who collaborate with me. It is their effort and dedication that make it possible for you to enjoy beautiful knitted clothing with unique handcrafted details.""