Artisan Organization: Wilber Calapuja
Country: Central America
"I'm Wilber Calapuja Marron and I was born in Puno where my mother knitted sweaters to sell. I’m a very happy, hard-working, punctual and honest person. I decided to come to Lima to live with a relative to study auto mechanics, then computers and, later, coding.
"One day, a friend offered me a job in a workshop where they knitted sweaters and that's where my interest and passion for developing and knitting sweaters was awakened. In my work experience, I learned to knit, then design and develop different kinds of sweaters, and also learned a great deal about manual and electronic machines. Eventually, I was ready to set up my own workshop.
"When I first ventured out on my own, there were some difficult moments, but each obstacle I overcame motivated me to keep going forward. The toughest part was not having enough money. I worried about finding customers because I needed more work for my collaborators and, fortunately, the people who assist me always supported me. They'd cheer me up with their jokes and, when I would stop by to see how the work was going, I'd always leave smiling.
"Designing is the first step in the process, which is done on the computer. Next, we select the materials, such as alpaca. Finally, we knit them. I enjoy being able to innovate our designs, knitting and use of materials. I don't find it difficult – one just needs creativity and a lot of patience.
"My designs begin as an idea that I quickly capture on paper. I work with my wife and we both spend almost 14 hours a day in the workshop and have weekly meetings to organize the work. It's a challenging job, but very satisfying.
"One of our greatest challenges is competition, which is why I want to increase sales and provide more work to the people around me. As a child, I wanted to work on my own and I've finally achieved this. You have given me the opportunity to continue growing by showing our designs to the world.""