How a former Computer Engineer went back to her families artisanal roots and began empowering artisans of Peru to sell directly to the market.
For the seven years that she worked as a computer engineer, Maria del Pilar also supported her parents, experienced artisans who instilled their appreciation of craftwork in their daughter at a young age. While Maria’s parents worked for more than twenty years creating products for agents to distribute, it was her father’s dream to dispose of intermediaries and sell their products directly. In 2013, Maria left her engineering job to join her father at PeruLand full-time, where she was able to use her experience to assist with online marketing and branding while also connecting to her familial passion for handicrafts. Now one of the three members of PeruLand’s administrative team, Maria is working on expanding the handicraft and textile sectors alongside her father who works on the line!
Founded in 2006, PeruLand works with twenty-one families and over 100 people, giving them all natural products from materials such as organic cotton, alpaca, and natural dyes. In addition to their work with families in the area, the seventy women employed by PeruLand also create private collections for designers who want the traditional techniques and beautiful design of PeruLand’s employees with the assurance of fair trade principles.
Maria attended Aid to Artisans’ Market Readiness Program (MRP) in 2016, where she participated in one-on-one sessions with experts and attended seminars with other artisans exploring the characteristics and demands of the U.S. retail market. It was through this training initiative in New York that Maria met a representative from the Melange Collection and formed a partnership enduring to this day. Though Peruvian handicraft has historically sold to traditional buyers who desire cheaper products, these are not Maria’s ideal customers, so she continues to invest resources in developing high-quality handmade products. With a boost of confidence in her products’ style from her MRP mentor, Maria returned to the PeruLand headquarters with a slew of New York-based customers and a new understanding of who her target buyers are. Since the MRP, PeruLand has grown from a family passion to a strong business with a sense of responsibility to empower the artisans they work with.
Continuing her involvement with Aid to Artisans, Maria will be participating in ATA’s Training Entrepreneurs in Artisan Markets (TEAM) program this Summer, attending the Las Vegas Market, and receiving onsight mentoring at their annual summer tradeshow. Maria anticipates creating long-lasting relationships with buyers and expanding the international presence of PeruLand!