Ethical Fashion, Socially Conscious, Sustainable Fashion
By Luisa Tapia, founder of My Peruvian Treasures.
As a native Peruvian, I grew up in a culture with a great exposure to ancient textiles techniques and some of the best natural fibers you can find- such as Organic Pima Cotton and Alpaca Fiber.
Coming from a family of artisans of textiles, pottery and all sorts of handcrafted items, it was inherited in me that same appreciation for our traditions and our natural resources. I started to sew my own clothing at a very young age and my interest for the Art of Fashion grew when I was in High School. By the time I started college I knew I wanted to be part of the Slow Fashion Movement for the rest of my life.
Back in those years, I visited a sweat shop outside of Lima for the first time and it finally hit me the impact Fast Fashion could have in the lives of young factory workers and our community.
During the 80's and 90's when terrorist groups were more violent around the country, many families mobilized out of the most dangerous areas; and some of us young individuals, even looked for new opportunities out of the country.
Those were the years when most of the clothing factories with poor working conditions were booming and still now are part of our reality.
Developing countries are the perfect incubators for these types of practices, where young women are desperate for job opportunities to feed their families, falling into exploitative factory hands.
In my case, after years of managing my family's small business and losing everything; I was left with no other choice than leaving my home in 1996 to be starting a new life in New York City.
By myself with a strong desire to succeed for my family, all that I had with me was a Fashion Design Degree, $300- from pawning my own sewing machine, and a small suitcase filled with dreams.
A few weeks later, I was working during the day and attending school at night at FIT Graduate Program; with the help of a lady neighbor from childhood.
Due to my immigrant status, I was unable to get a fair wage job within my field, since undocumented immigrants also suffer exploitation as factory workers in the USA.
During those years I found joy working as a Nanny, helping families raising their children. Those children became then my family and I had to put on hold my dreams for a while.
It took me 10 years to finally legalize my status and travel back to Peru to seeing my parents and siblings again. And in the Summer of 2009 moving to Lancaster County - Pennsylvania brought me new opportunities. By the end of that year, I was making garments for a local theater company while starting collaborations with women artisans back in Peru.
On weekdays I had my theater job, and on weekends I was promoting our products at Artisan Markets; until 2015 when I took a leap of faith and left the company to fulfill my dreams of becoming a full-time social entrepreneur.
As Peruvian, I wanted to give back to my community by creating job opportunities and offering fair wages to artisan women. Also, I wanted to help on passing along our traditions to future generations.
As American, having a small business focused on ethical practices and sustainable products that could make an impact not only to our local economy, but to the lives of consumers and the environment. I wanted to be a contributor to a greater good!
After the pandemic, with all the travel restrictions; I was unable to travel to Peru as I was accustomed. At the same time, I was experiencing a growing awareness for the needs of artisans in other Latin American countries and Asia.
During those difficult times, I felt in my heart that against all odds I needed to reach out to these global connections and transform "My Peruvian Treasures" into a Peru and beyond journey. That's when new partnerships with organizations from Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, India, Indonesia and other countries started. And these partnerships have given me the opportunity to support different local and global social causes.
Through these years as BIPOC and Social-preneur doors have opened to work with many local organizations including Lancaster Gifts that that Give Hope, by sharing with our neighbors about the benefits of Fair Trade, Ethically Made, Sustainability and more conscious consumer choices.
From makers to consumers, the Fashion Revolution Movement is here to stay and transform the World of Fashion as we knew it. Would you be part of this movement?!