“Should we go to their wedding? I don’t really look presentable. I don’t even want to be around ME right now.”
Four hours after meeting the women of Patacancha, we’re being fed home made quinoa soup, learning the intricate details of weaving beautiful hand made pieces, and asked if we would like to attend a wedding ceremony later that night.
From the very beginning stages of planning our Peru trip, my way more organized friend Ivy and I wanted to be immersed in the country’s culture. Numerous friends shared their travel stories of its history, vibrance, and the people’s strong connection to their land and culture, which feels something so distant as an American nowadays with the situation at Standing Rock.
We researched non-profit organizations that focused on women and came across Awamaki, a non-profit that connects the Andean women with the global market by giving
them access to a working income while keeping true to their culture,
heritage, and values. The relationship they had with the people of the town, the history they shared, and their true passion to inspire these women to help provide for their family and increase their quality of life reminded me in the power of simply caring.
As we drove up the mountains and entered the town, I was overly stimulated in such a positive way. We were greeted with open hearts and smiles - colors with such a palpable sense of saturation, and a striking eagerness to connect with total strangers. Organic Eucalyptus tea was waiting for us, and damn, it was the most refreshing thing I ever had in my life - please note that we were also chewing on coco leaves with every breathe we took, sooooo…… Anyways, once we got settled and gathered around the piles of alpaca yarn, we began learning the fascinating process of weaving. Each step is natural from beginning to end. The women gather the alpaca hair and spin it into yarn as if it was like breathing. From there, they naturally dye the yarn with dried beetle’s blood and eventually arrange each strand to create patterns and graphics so effortlessly, it was damn near hypnotic.
After the pieces were made, we were able to buy directly from these women and were gifted bracelets that we were able to help weave - I gave up in about 2 minutes.
We sat with these women and enjoyed the company, the culture, and heritage. One interesting thing they shared was the tradition of asking a woman’s hand in marriage. If a man wants to marry a woman from the town, he must walk to her house in the middle of the night to ensure he does not see an other woman on the way there. Then he can ask her father for her hand in marriage, proving that no other woman will come in the way of his commitment. Meanwhile, I’m over here wondering if a guy has another Bumble date the next night, probably.
I admire the strength in the tradition and values of the people of Peru and the eagerness of the Patacancha women to learn and provide for their family alongside the men.
“The most powerful way to reduce poverty is
giving women access to income. ” - Awamaki
Special thank you to the women of Patacancha, and Jessica and Mari of Awamaki. Thank you for sharing your passion to help other women and opening up your home and hearts.
Here’s the link to learn more about the organization.
“Tell me all your thoughts on God, cause I’d really like to meet her”- Dishwalla
I always think of this lyric when I hear the word feminism and the stigma of it being just some aggressive standpoint or some absurd way of thinking. It boggles my mind that we are still having discussions on the right to our own bodily autonomy and integrity. The idea of feminism should be easy to grasp and ACCEPT in my opinion. Now, to be able to dissect the oppressive state in which women live in, advocate the dismantling of our current system and make moves towards a liberated life for all is where Ivy Quicho takes the baton and leads the way.
Ivy has worked as a social worker for over 10 years and is the National Organizing Director of Af3irm - an organization of women engaged in transnational feminist anti-imperialist activism dedicated to the fight against oppression in all forms. I know that’s a lot to digest, but with a mission statement like that, I feel pretty damn invincible having Ivy on my side. One minute I’m standing strong in my stance on prostitution, strip clubs and a woman’s right to express herself, the next minute I am realizing the negative impact on capitalizing off of the exploitation of women. Throw in a valid theory of supply and demand, and I was damn near on my way to picketing Jumbo’s Clown Room in DTLA. Ivy, I’ve been there, I’m sooooooo sorry!
My own personal penance for believing some of these gender roles was to embrace what I thought would be an intimidating conversation on feminism. But as we sat there and she answered every question I had, I realized my hesitation was unnecessary and I was overcome with so much knowledge and empathy towards all sides, races, and backgrounds. The power of conversation is what starts movements. Typing those words seems fresh from some IG Quote account (not gonna lie, this one has helped sometimes), but for Ivy and the women of Af3irm it’s only the beginning. It all seems like such a lofty task, almost unimaginable. At the end of the conversation I just wanted to go get ice cream on York blvd and talk about the finale of The Night Of, but Ivy dared me to dream. To dream of a world of equality, liberation, & social change. She made me realize the distinction between feminism and mainstream feminism. She broke down the differences of a white woman’s struggle vs a woman of color. She dropped knowledge on alarming statistics of women being raped or assaulted in this country.
Af3irm is hell bent on demanding change, and intensifying the wave of feminism to drown all levels of inequality and social injustices. One way of this method is the launch of SOYA LA, a free, holistic three-part program for female youth. Here, girls participate in trauma-informed yoga, sensory strategies, and transnational feminist workshops. The program provides youth with the knowledge and tools to not only cope and survive our daily oppression, but to heal, organize, and dream.
To see the power of community, passion, empathy, and everything that comes with a movement, first hand makes me believe in the good in people, and I forget there is any good the minute I get on the 405. For that alone I can’t thank Ivy and the women of Af3irm enough.
“Yo, you DO have a big head, but at least you work in fashion so people will notice your clothes first.”
The candid, funny, and sometimes inappropriate moments that I share with Sandy Oh are just a few reasons why I admire this woman. Her infectious smile, obvious fashion sense, and endearing Asian lady ways leave you wanting to know more than just what she’s wearing. One of my favorite outfits I’ve seen on Sandy was an a-line tent dress, bomber jacket, laced rimmed - polka dot sock situation, finished off with bright ass yellow stilettos. Doesn’t make sense - that sentence didn’t make sense, but Sandy manages to combine each piece effortlessly.
Always true to her own style and aesthetic, the latest Indigo Capsule Collection with AG Jeans is only a glimpse into her creative mind. I watched her dedicate every kimchi minute and sketch to this line and to have her explain her vision to me in words was truly inspiring. As I continue to work on the digital content strategy with the team, it’s becoming evident that her attention to shapes, obscure silhouettes, and wash fabric techniques derive from a place I can’t quite explain, and I sure as hell don’t want to fuck it up so I’ll let Sandy take this one…
“I love fashion but I truly love clothes. Although being a designer does not save lives it gives people self identity and individuality. No two people will ever dress exactly the same. This is what the Indigo Capsule Collection is all about, creating unique pieces left for interpretation.
Every fashion designer has a story that starts with…When I was little…For me it’s in my blood. My mom at the age of 17 started her very own tailor shop in Korea. She at a young age started creating beautiful tailor garments for people in small towns. I do want to say that I received a lot of my mom’s DNA. She to this day has a love affair with clothes as I do.
Fashion to me is not just my career but my everyday lifestyle, I live and breathe it daily. Although Coco Chanel said to always remove one item before you leave out the door, I always add one more piece to complete my look as I walk out to start my day! Style should come from within and everyone should dress for themselves and not to impress others. Fashion is art and art is fashion. Like art fashion is left for one to create and left for interpretation by each individual.”
Check out the line here = AG JEANS
“I’m usually the only girl…that’s too girly…I can’t do pink.” Actually, I really can’t do pink. That shade, my skin tone, no good can come from that.
I’ve always been that girl that prided herself in being just one of the guys. Always saying, “I mostly hang with dudes”, like it was supposed to validate me as some cool chick that stood out from a sea of vaginas (how’s that for a visual?). It is true, that I do feel a sense of comfort with my boys, but lately there’s been a rising level of guilt due to my lack of acknowledgement towards the amazing and inspiring women in my life. I am by no means an expert on feminism, what wave it currently is on, or what are the necessary steps we as society need to take to wake the hell up and expedite women being rightfully viewed as equals, but what I do know is that there are women in this world and specifically in my life that are making moves.
I want to share these stories of women every Wednesday in hopes to inspire and to see if I can break your habits of taking those Buzzfeed quizes (yo, you probably already know which 90’s song you are by the 3rd question, come on!).
I want to start #WomanWednesday off with the ladies of Safe Word Creative Management. Coupled with years of experience in representing heavy hitting creative talent with the purest energy and passion, Erika Bokamper and Erika Sheldon are here to take the advertising world by storm. These two continue to inspire me with their vision and tenacity of bringing creative minds together, all while staying grounded in a world of chaos.
I’m lucky as shit to call these ladies colleagues and friends and can’t wait to see first hand the power of what these freakishly determine women can do.