The year was 2008, just two years into the humanitarian projects of the Pure Art Foundation, established in 2006, and Founders Brigitte and Robert found themselves travelling to Pucallpa, Peru. Working with a community of squatters living in the slums on the outskirts of this jungle town, the duo was busy developing initiatives that would provide shelter, fresh water, healthcare and education to families in need. On March 12th, Brigitte and Robert travelled three hours up the Ucayali River, visiting Nuevo San Juan for the inauguration of the area’s first fresh water well. On that same day, Pure Art Founder Brigitte met Mirna, a Shipibo woman from Limongema, an indigenous community from deeper within the jungle.
Photo by Sonia Primerano. Brigitte and Mirna reunite on our 2014 trip to Nuevo San Juan.
Carrying with her traditional Shipibo embroideries, Mirna shared with Brigitte her community’s vision of improving the living conditions within their village. With deep admiration for the intricacies of the Shipibo art, Brigitte recognized an incredible talent in Mirna and her fellow artisans that begged for exposure. An opportunity existed to empower these women to become self-sufficient by enabling them to produce beautiful products that could be sold beyond their small jungle village.
Photo by Robert McKinnon. The traditional embroideries of the Shipibo tribe reflect their deep connection to the earth and the spiritual journey through Ayahuasca- a plant considered sacred for its healing power.
That same day, Brigitte returned to Pucallpa, and purchased threads, fabrics and the first of three manual sewing machines. Resources in hand, the women now had an improved and more efficient way of providing for their families. This experience was the spark that has motivated Brigitte's commitment to fair trade principles ever since- a solution to much of the poverty so often witnessed by the Foundation.
In 2011, the Pure Art Boutique opened its doors in Hudson, Qc and began selling some of the beautiful pieces created by these artisans. To this day, The Sewing Initiative continues to work with this group of 19 Shipibo women who create a range of hand embroidered products for the boutique, now available on our online shop. At the end of the day, it is the ancestral traditions of these communities that we are so inspired to protect. And, we are certain that empowering these women to become skilled entrepreneurs is the key to enabling them to provide bright futures for their children.