Deep Breaths from Peru
Lauren is a Noonday Ambassador who lives with her husband Jordan in the Greater Chicagoland Area who loves helping empower the next generation of world changers through her work with college students. Lauren recently had the opportunity to travel on an Ambassador Trip to Peru, where she discovered the power that travel has to both make you breathe a little deeper, and take your breath away.
“Just be sure to take some deep breaths…”
That’s what a friend said just prior to me leaving for my Ambassador Trip to Peru. Of course, she was referring to the altitude difference that I would experience and wanted to give me pointers on what to do about it. What I didn’t know at the time was how powerful those words would be during my trip and how often they would come to mind throughout my time in Peru.
Deep breaths. Not only are they refreshing, but they’re necessary. Go ahead and take one or two right now. See? Isn’t that refreshing? For me, this trip had several “deep breath moments” that allowed me to stop and breathe in what was around me—to re-center myself and pause. I’m so grateful for having experienced the culture, met our Artisan Partners, and spent meaningful time with my Noonday Collection Ambassador sisters.
Every time I experience a new culture, I grow as an individual. My worldview expands and so does my appreciation for life. Traveling to different countries is one of the best educations we can give ourselves. You need to go to Peru at least once in your life! The people, the food, the colors… (the llamas)… It’s all pretty remarkable. Peruvians are some of the strongest and kindest people. And they can whip up some amazing culinary concoctions, like Causa Rellena de Pollo—a yellow potato seasoned to perfection with aji, filled with savory chicken, and presented as a work of art! And don’t even get me started on the Pisco Sours. Then there’s the color in Peruvian culture.
Oh, the color! Vibrant reds and pinks, deep purples, bright yellows, sunset oranges, and calming greens—they are nothing short of breathtaking, and they will instantly lift your spirits. The rich colors from resources of the earth are as effervescent as the people and the food. Deep breath. Peru truly is a magical place.
Visiting our Artisan Partners
It had been a goal of mine to meet our Artisan Partners ever since I joined Noonday Collection as an Ambassador in 2016. I could hardly sleep the night before we left. Thoughts of meeting our Artisan Partners filled my head. I didn’t know what to expect.
22 of us boarded a bus that day and headed to our partners at Hilos y Colores. Hilos y Colores (translation: “Yarn & Colors”) was started by an amazing couple, Faustino and Mercedes, 32 years ago to empower women in their communities through dignified work.
When we arrived, the street was lined with men and women in brightly colored traditional Peruvian fashion and with musicians playing instruments and singing old tunes. I was so overcome by the warm welcome from our Artisan Partners that it brought me to tears. It was a day all of us, Ambassadors and Artisans, had been eagerly anticipating, and we were welcomed into the celebration through song and dance.
As I danced with our Peruvian partners and fellow Ambassadors, I experienced one of those slow motion, out-of-body moments, when you find yourself looking around, taking everything in with a huge smile and a few tears of joy. Deep breath. I was dancing with our Artisan Partners! And though I didn’t speak their language and they didn’t speak mine, we communicated in one of the best ways possible that day.
The dancing ushered us into their workshop, where we greeted by babies and their mamas who were working alongside their friends, hand-stitching beautiful products like our Wildflower Clutch. It was here at Hilos y Colores that we learned about the production process of the bags we’re privileged to sell in the States. Hilos y Colores employs over 800 women who handcraft each of their pieces. Their work allows them to achieve empowerment, independence, and (of course!) a sustainable income.
After spending some time with these women, we were given a tour of the workshop and a hands-on demonstration of what goes into the production of our bags.
Now I can show you!
First, the base for the clutch is woven on the loom.
Next, the base is screen-printed with the Wildflower design.
Each flower is assigned a specific color.
Kits are assembled and sent to women in five surrounding communities to complete the stitching of the pattern. It is roughly a two-day process to complete the design.
The completely stitched base for the clutch is sent back to Hilos y Colores to be made into the finished product, the Wildflower Clutch.
From Hilos y Colores we drove 45 minutes to meet more Artisan Partners who work on the hand-stitching of our bags in Vinchos, Ayacucho. Some had traveled for hours to meet us. We shared a delicious meal of freshly caught fish and boiled potatoes by the river. After lunch, each Ambassador was paired with an Artisan and shown stitching techniques.
As I looked out at Ambassadors and Artisans working together, I took a deep breath. It was a moment I will never forget.
Something beautiful happens when like-minded, empowered women get together. One of the beautiful things about Noonday Collection is that, along the way, I have developed a sisterhood that I could not have dreamed of when I started as an Ambassador. Taking this trip to Peru allowed me to connect with women not just across the ocean, but from across the country, too.
I connected with women in life stages very similar to mine. They offered advice, a listening ear, and encouragement. We shared stories of hurt, loss, and hope.
We took deep breaths together.
They even taught me a thing or two about how to shop Peruvian markets. Let me just say, you haven’t lived if you haven’t shopped artisan markets with your Ambassisters! These women are unlike any I’ve ever met. They have fire in their bellies, they are so filled with joy, and they are changing the world one Wildflower Clutch at a time!
My time spent in Peru with these Artisans and Ambassadors was just what I needed. I walked away feeling so refreshed. A deeper understanding and appreciation for the work we do was instilled in me.
I am forever grateful for the deep breaths I’ll be taking home from Peru.