Awamaki is honored to be recognized by the following organizations

About

Overview

Awamaki creates lasting impact in the remote mountains of Peru by helping rural Andean women’s associations launch successful small businesses creating authentic, high-quality products and experiences. Awamaki invests in women’s skills, connects them to market access and supports their leadership so they can increase their income and transform their communities. Awamaki is comprised of a Peruvian asociación civil and a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working closely together to empower women’s associations, connect them to markets and enable them to lead their communities out of poverty. Though a non-profit, Awamaki uses market strategies to accomplish its charitable goals of increasing women’s income and business leadership.

Our History

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S., and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

Projects

We aim to help women’s cooperatives learn to start and run their own businesses. We do this through our programs in women’s artisanal cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

Artisanal Cooperatives

We partner with cooperatives of rural Andean women to provide training and market access. The objective of our efforts is to provide women with a reliable source of income so they can increase their families’ quality of life and well-being. Our partner cooperatives weave, knit, spin and sew. We offer training in quality control, product development and technical skills improvement. In our training, we teach color combination, natural dyes methods and weaving to measurement to weavers. Fiber selection and spinning yarn to specified weights to spinners. Stitching and reading patterns to knitters. Sewing, garment pattern-making and design to seamstresses.

Shop the products

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism includes a homestay association, a Spanish teachers’ cooperative, and market access for both. It also includes community cultural tourism excursions to visit Awamaki’s weaving cooperatives where products can be purchased directly. Our Sustainable Tourism projects lead meaningful cultural experiences for tourists and promote appreciation of Andean traditions and ways of life. We operate a store in Ollantaytambo to sell products to tourists. We sell in the United States through our online store, trunk shows and partner retailers.

A Message from Kennedy Leavens

I founded Awamaki in the belief that income in the hands of women is the best way to lift communities out of poverty. Women know what their children and their communities need and they make those investments when they have the means to do so. Awamaki gives women in remote places access to the modern economy so that they can invest in their children, homes and communities as they see fit. I have always been passionate about women's empowerment. I connected this passion with Latin America at a young age, when I went on a school trip to Ollantaytambo, Peru - where Awamaki is now based - in 2001. That trip inspired my interest in Latin America and international development, and set my path to Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. There, I studied Latin America and economic development. After graduating, I moved to Ollantaytambo to work as a volunteer for a local Peruvian weaving non-profit. After two years, my colleagues and I from that project founded Awamaki. Awamaki started in early 2009 with 2 staff members and a handful of volunteers, working with 10 women weavers. We grew quickly, attracting talented volunteers who wanted to make a difference. It was an exciting few years, in which we pursued many different ideas, from health initiatives to English classes to even starting a bakery. As we matured, I felt I needed more skills to help our growing project thrive. I left Peru to pursue a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington, where I specialized in non-profit management. As we matured and as I learned more about organizational strategy, we increasingly focused on our core programmatic strength, which was, and still is, connecting Andean women artisans to economic opportunities. We spun our health initiative off into a separate non-profit, and phased out our other work. We increased our focus on connecting our artisans to markets through our store and wholesale business, and through our tourism program. As our sales and the number of artisan partner cooperatives grew, we aimed to deepen our impact. Beyond helping women earn income, we wanted to give them the ability to provide for their families without being dependent on us or any one organization. We began to work with the artisans to teach them not only how to make products for us to sell, but also the skills they need to build successful, women-led artisan businesses. We now work with them on skills from client cultivation to quality control to banking, and we help them connect directly to clients other than us so that they can build their businesses. Our vision is that as Awamaki's sales grow, and as our current cooperatives grow their business to include orders for other clients, we can bring in new artisan cooperatives to help fill demand for our products, thus expanding our impact across the region. Deepening our connections here in the U.S. has been essential to our work selling the artisan products and bringing visitors to our work in Peru. Though I spent most of eight years living in Ollantaytambo, I now live in my hometown of Seattle, with my husband and our son. Here, I like to camp, hike, bike, ski and cook with my family, as well as promote Awamaki's work and help guide our strategy. In the meantime, I visit Peru as often as I can, and my husband and I dream about moving back there some day. Thank you for your support,Kennedy Leavens Founder and Executive Director of Awamaki

Leadership Team

Yovana Candela MunaresOperations DirectorHometown: Lima, Peru

Mercedes Durand ZamalloaHead of Women's Artisan CooperativesHometown: Urubamba, Peru

Laura BrokawInternational Partnerships ManagerHometown: Los Angeles, California

Laddy Laura Canal MarSales CoordinatorHometown: Ollantaytambo, Peru

Martha ZunigaProduction CoordinatorHometown: Rumira, Peru

Juan Camilo SaavedraTourism CoordinatorHometown: Cali, Colombia

Brianna GriesingerMarketing and Communications CoordinatorHometown: Detroit, Michigan

Anne Marie ToccketResource Development DirectorHometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Alejandra Carrillo-MuñozHead DesignerHometown: Bloomington, Indiana

Our Board

Tom Weeks A Seattle native, Tom holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University and served in the Peace Corps in Micronesia. A longtime public servant, he was an elected member of the Seattle City Council for two terms and was Executive Director of Human Resources for the Seattle Public Schools prior to Chairing the Board of the Seattle Monorail Project. He taught at the Evans School of Public Policy at the University of Washington and has consulted in public policy and negotiation. He has served on numerous boards. He and his wife have two grown children and close family ties to Peru. Currently he is the assistant coach of a high school girls’ basketball team.

Kristen Clark Kristen lives in Seattle. She is a CPA and has over ten years of experience in tax accounting for large corporations. She has traveled extensively overseas and is currently expanding her career interests to graphic design. She has visited Ollantaytambo several times with her husband Jeff. They have two dogs and can be found cycling or canoeing in their spare time.

Jessica Younker  Jessica was Awamaki's Weaving Project Coordinator from 2010-2012 where she saw the project expand from 35 weavers in Patacancha to 76 weavers, knitters, and seamstresses in 3 additional communities. Since then, she has lived in Nashville working first as a farmhand and currently as a software developer.

Anne Marie Toccket  Anne Marie Toccket holds a master's degree in international development from the University of Pittsburgh and bachelor's degrees in Spanish, international studies and journalism from Penn State University. She has worked extensively in Latin America, including contract, consulting and volunteer positions in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, and Peru. While completing her master's, Anne Marie was the two-time recipient of the Foreign Language and Area Studies award, which supported research on the Andes and in Quechua language study. She worked in Peru for Awamaki’s predecessor organization, helped found Awamaki, and returns regularly. Annemarie is a non-profit strategic consultant and fundraiser in Pittsburgh.

Kramer Gillin Originally from Seattle, Kramer Gillin is a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduating from Macalester College, Kramer worked for a folk art importer and a foreign map distributor in Austin, TX. He then moved to Tajikistan, where he worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Now at UW-Madison, Kramer researches the social, political, and environmental dimensions of land reform, pasture management, and economic development projects in Central Asia and Afghanistan; teaches regional geography courses; and is currently editing a world regional geography textbook. His first trip to the Sacred Valley was in 2001.

Ladd Leavens Ladd has practiced law since 1975. He spent five years as a public defender in Washington, D.C., and then practiced for the remainder of his career at Davis Wright Tremaine, a Seattle law firm with offices around the country. He is now retired and grows vegetables, berries, fruit and Christmas trees with his wife on Vashon Island, near Seattle. Ladd has travelled to Ollantaytambo five times since 2004. He is the father of Kennedy Leavens, one of the Awamaki founders. He has two other grown daughters.

Quincy Anderson A Seattle native, Quincy Anderson has been an exhibiting artist for over thirty years. Influenced by her travels all over the world, Quincy creates nature-inspired large scale abstract paintings. Since receiving her MFA from the University of Washington, Quincy has also been an art instructor at many different institutions throughout Washington State. Her work is represented by Howard/Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, WA and Museo Gallery, Langley, WA. She lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. Quincy is passionate about women’s empowerment and textile design.

Vicki Weeks Vicki Weeks is leader in the global education field. She holds a M.Ed in International Education from Harvard. She has led and taught international travel experiences for 40 years. In that time, she spent 13 years designing and running the comprehensive and progressive global education program at Lakeside School, which sends students all over the world to live alongside communities and learn from them. She now works as a consultant at Global Weeks helping schools incorporate meaningful global education into their curriculum. She also chairs the board of the Independent School Experiential Education Network. She has deep ties to Peru.

Annie Millican

Pamela Vanderlinde Pamela Vanderlinde is an independent designer based in Chicago whose design practice, philosophy and teaching are grounded in her study of historical and contemporary bespoke fashion. For eleven years, she owned and operated a boutique named Zone which housed her bespoke designs. Pamela also teaches fashion design classes at the undergraduate level at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. Her level of expertise is grounded in patternmaking and fashion design and has just written a book published by Bloomsbury Publishing titled Patternmaking for Jacket and Coat Design, which was released in January 2017. She also has expertise in fashion business and has taught classes in this discipline as well.