Gigi Pedraza, founder and owner of Inca Kids, A Fair Trade Store, seeks out and showcases the crafts and textiles of Peruvian artisans. She is based here in Atlanta and is a friend and former neighbor. I asked Gigi if I could feature an interview with her for a blog post to learn more about why Inca Kids was established, her inspiration for product designs, and upcoming plans for her business. She graciously agreed, and her responses to my questions are below.....
I was born in Toronto, Canada but I have spent most of my life in Peru. I first came to Atlanta in 2002, moved to Shanghai in 2005 and came back in 2007.#1 -- Are you from Atlanta? If not, where are you from and how long have you lived here?
#2 -- What was the spark that led you to create Inca Kids and what year did you establish the company?
While living in Shanghai I came face-to-face with the environmental and social damage mass production has in the world. After months of a sore throat I went to see a doctor fearing the worst. He said it was the pollution from the factories and to please never exercise outdoors but on an enclosed area. The air inside the buildings was cleaner. Also, I lived through several milk and toys with lead scares with an infant baby. The factories in China basically had no other choice than downgrade the quality of materials and supplies to accommodate to the never ending pressure of "the west" for cheaper products. Finally, I saw and worked with thousands of children, a whole generation of kids living with elderly and sickly grandparents. The parents were absent only because the only work available was in those same factories in some far away city paying cents the hour which forced them to live on the premises to score more hours so they could make ends meet. Traditional crafts were being forgotten.
I thought: "There must be a different and better way to create and produce. I am going to find it" and that is how I discovered the Fair Trade Movement, its principles and impact. I decided I wanted to be part of that and provide parents with an alternative when purchasing toys. I wanted to help them realize that every time they buy something, they are voting for an economic system that is fair to both consumer and producer.
I began operations in Nov. 2007.
I design around 40% of the items we sell. I am inspired by traditional crafts and figure out a way to use those same techniques applied to more modern design. I love the muted colors by vegetable dyes and the bright landscape scraps of fabric create when you pile them up high. I also try to incorporate traditional andean toys and accessories into our offering so you will find some stuffed Llama dolls in the most interesting colors as well as babywearing dolls entirely handknitted in alpaca The other 60% is designed and crafted entirely by the artisans we work with. They get inspired by their surroundings (the ever changing color of the mountains) and main foods (corn, potatoes)#3 -- What are your inspirations for selecting and creating the designs you feature?
I did research for a year looking for groups of artisans and co-operatives that understood the fair trade concept and whose products and production already had some quality control processes. Also, they had to be Peruvian. The level of craftsmanship is simply outstanding and I am familiar with the language and culture. The two co-operatives we work with represent more than 23 groups of artisans, their majority are women working in small communities or shantytowns across the country.#4 -- How did you go about sourcing your artisans for your products?
Currently in 3 boutique stores:#5 -- Where can we buy Inca Kids in Atlanta?
-At The Collective in Inman Park (280 Elizabeth Street)
-5 Continents in Buckhead (326 Pharr Rd)
-Green Mosaics in Decatur (228 E Ponce de Leon Ave)
We are evolving from a focus on online sales to a focus on placement on brick-and-mortar boutique stores and schools. We are developing a section recommending travel packages to Peru specifically including interaction and visit to artisans and their workshops, community centers and outdoor markets. Their is a gap between a traditional tour and an immersion experience in a country and its traditions. We believe we can help bridge that gap and increase awareness why fair trade and traditional techniques are so important to the livelihood of rural communities.#6 -- What are your plans for the business in 2012?
Back in November, Scout Mob offered a "Hand-Picked" deal to visit the Atlanta coffee roasting operation for the Olympia, WA based coffee company Batdorf & Bronson. The $25 purchase price included 2 hours of touring the facility (which has been in Atlanta since 1994), learning about the history of coffee, sampling Batdorf & Bronson blends, 2 bags of beans to take home, a coffee mug, and to top it all off, a slice of Pie Shop's Chocolate Cream Pie made with Batdorf & Bronson coffee and Cacao Atlanta chocolate -- Whoa!
Our tour was yesterday (photos below) and led by Jason Dominy, the Customer Support & Outreach Coordinator for Batdorf & Bronson. Jason has been in the coffee business for 15 years.... having opened 2 coffee shops of his own, then working for Caribou, and has now been with Batdorf & Bronson just over two years. His hand poured coffee will change your idea of what drip coffee should taste like. Jason's aim is to get coffee drinkers to take a culinary approach to making coffee using fresh ground beans, ground just before you make your cup, and he suggests using a "Clever Dripper" rather than a traditional coffee maker. For more, watch the video below to see Jason's techniques for making the perfect cup everytime.
Cast Iron Coffee Roaster (above) and Coffee Beans Before They're Roasted (below)
Chocolate Cream Pie from Pie Shop, made with Batdorf & Bronson Coffee and Cacao Atlanta Chocolate!
Regina King wearing Alberta Ferretti -- STUNNING in Lilac
Dianna Agron wearing Carolina Herrera | Jessica Chastain wearing Calvin Klein Collection | Emily Blunt wearing Oscar de la Renta -- RADIANT in Bright Color
Armie Hammer & Elizabeth Chambers -- BEST Dressed Couple
Yesterday's NY Times Home section included a Q&A with noted interior designer Carleton Varney. Varney has enjoyed a successful and lengthy design career, having cut his teeth with legendary American interior designer Dorothy Draper. Draper's style in 2012 is as ever highly regarded as when she founded her design firm in 1923. Varney assumed ownership of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc. and has committed to staying true to Draper's design principles and overall vision. He has continued working on projects that Draper originally put her style stamp on, specifically the interior design of The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. At 74, Varney shows no signs of slowing down.... the Times reports that he is launching the Dorothy Draper School of Decorating, a week long series of classes, to be held at The Greenbrier, with sessions in February, March, April, and June.
I have a passion for Carleton Varney's custom designed fabrics, particularly the collection he created for Schumacher back in the 1970s. I didn't realize this until about a year ago, but the baby blanket I had as a child, that was stitched together and given to me by my Godmother, she made from Carleton Varney fabric, "Elephants". The image of Bubble Gum Pink Elephants is etched in my mind forever, and I still have the blanket to this day. I made the connection that her choice of fabric was a Varney print, when I spotted it on an Etsy posting while searching for vintage fabrics. I purchased every yard the seller had, and now, having a name tied to the design, I headed to Ebay to search for more, where I ended up finding and purchasing Varney's "Honey Bunny" design. Instead of repeating Pink Elephants, this print is repeating White Bunnies & Orange Carrots on a deep blue background. It remains to be seen what I will do with all this fabric, but I am such a sucker for nostalgia, it's safe to say it will be in my possession for the duration.
"Elephants" (above) and "Honey Bunny" (below)
Chinoiserie Style Mirror | Curved Back Sofa | Pair of Drapery Panels | Pair of Vintage Lamps | Set of Cocktail Glasses | Pair of Caned Arm Chairs | Set of 6 Mies van der Rohe Chairs | Chiavari Style Side Chair | Pair of Anchor Andirons | Pair of Pendants | Eagle Detailed Quilt | Mirrored Top Coffee Table | Etagere | Console Table
Local Atlanta interior designer Lee Kleinhelter has been tapped by One Kings Lane to be part of their Tastemaker Tag Sale series, happening tomorrow, January 27 at 11am EST. Lee is the owner of the much loved boutique home furnishings store, Pieces, located in heart of Buckhead. I think everyone fell head over heels for Lee's design style when her home was featured in Cottage Living magazine, back in October 2006. She presented a fresh take on family friendly (and dog) living, mixing together her signature touches of new furnishings, with repurposed vintage finds, pops of color, and unexpected accessories. I've held onto the CL images, check out below.....
Rachel Ashwell, on the grounds of The Prairie
Image Nonsense & Sensibility
Rachel Ashwell, the style force behind the design movement Shabby Chic, has recently opened The Prairie, a B & B situated on 46 picturesque acres in Round Top, TX. Ashwell has lovingly restored 5 existing structures on the property, all decorated with her signature style of soft colors, cozy fabrics, and vintage accessories. Ashwell became very familiar with the Round Top area through her many years of buying trips for vintage finds at the legendary Round Top Antiques Fair, a seasonal antiques market that attracts buyers from all over the country. For more, check out the photos below, and pick up a copy of the FEB/MAR issue of Garden & Gun magazine, featuring The Prairie.
The Ranger's Lounge -- Check-in and gathering area for meals and conversation (photos above & 3 below)
The Cornflower Cottage -- A studio with king size bed and full bath (photos above & 2 below)
The Blue Bonnet Barn -- Queen size accommodations, sitting area, and bath (photos above & 3 below)
The Meadow Manor -- Offers 2 queen bedrooms, living room, and kitchen (photos above & 4 below)
The Liliput Lodge -- A 3 bedroom/2 bath home with kitchen, dining room, and living room (photos above & 7 below)
All Images The Prairie