Ambassador Peru

Written by Helle Duus Alex.

Violeta Villacorte

Vio in Kuna land photo

Since 2010, I began working with indigenous artisans in the Ecuadorian Amazon leading to my work with indigenous Amazon artisans in my native country Perú in mid 2011. While still in its birthing years, ORG by vio® is a brand that promotes and sells traditional hand crafted goods from the Amazon. ORG by vio ® stands for Organic Rainforest Goods by Violeta and Indigenous Organizations.

Peru 

 

 

 

My interest in the Amazon stems from my awareness of its rapid destruction caused by extractive industries, leaving many native communities unable to sustain their traditional livelihoods. The Amazon rainforest is our planet’s climate regulator and the lush millenary trees and vegetation that cover the largest rainforest in the world sequester carbon that our industries and daily lives produce, maintaining balance.

ORG by vio® is dedicated to sharing the beautiful craftsmanship that these communities possess and have passed down to their children for generations, keeping their culture alive. As these industries encroach upon their territories, many are forced to change and often lose their cultural identity. By working to promote their traditional artistry and collaborate on new designs with these highly talented artisans, we can ensure the survival and advancement of their traditions and culture, as well as support a sustainable economy for the stewards of the forests.

In Perú, I work in partnership with the Asociación de Mujeres de la Región Nor-Oriental Awajún (Women’s Association of the Awajún Nor-Oriental Region), an organization of about 52 women artisans who live in the remote community of Urakusa in the department of Amazonas. Since my first visit to meet and begin our work together, I have been impressed by the high design and quality of their work, as well as their effort to bring their work to market abroad with limited resources. They walk miles or travel by boat to stay in contact and deliver the beautiful collections that I receive back in the US. We have recently begun selling these stunning accessories through companies such as Free People and specialty stores in LA. ORG by vio® is also working on a dedicated online retail shop that will sell to the public directly.

The collections are a combination of traditional artistry and designs developed in partnership with the artisans. My occasional input in design is inspired by their traditional work, blending it with a modern touch for a discerning market. The result is exquisite works of wearable art made with rainforest plant materials that are harvested sustainably.

As word gets out of my work with Amazon artisans, other native Amazon communities contact me periodically to work with them. While currently concentrating on the work with artisans in the Awajún community of Urakusa in Perú and the Cofán Dureno artisans in Ecuador, I look forward to working with every group that approaches us, as it is our mission to share the beautiful art and culture of these ancient native Amazon communities with the World.

The projects aim to create viable economies for Amazon communities to remain as the stewards of the forests. Farming, logging, mining and petrochemical industries have a long history of destruction and pollution in the Amazon, leaving a trail of devastation in its path from extraction to end product. Once an indigenous community has been disrupted by these industries, they are often left with no means to adjust to a new way of life and are unable to continue to live in their traditional way. Our projects support their culture, livelihood and self-determination.

Although, my work is not strictly with women, they are the ones that do most of the artisan work in these communities.

I am honored to be a part of SistaEnable!