We sat back down and the demonstration continued. Dried and ground cochineal bugs were distributed into our palms, followed by a small amount of water. Our hands turned brilliant shades of red and purple. We circled around a pot of water and leaves, boiling gently over a fire. The artisans dipped their hand-spun yarn into the pot, and it emerged beautifully lime-colored. They went on to explain the many natural resources they use for dyeing, each producing its own unique color, made even more unique by the amount of time it would rest in the water. They then wrapped a set of threads carefully onto their self-made looms and wove additional yarn through them in the opposite direction to create the desired design. At the time, I had no idea how they created such beautifully elaborate designs from their minds, but I was mesmerized.
As I sat on the dusty ground, my hands stained with bug juice from my newest venture with Peruvian weaving, I realized exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: I wanted to change the textile industry. I’d had an interest in fashion for as long as I could remember, but I had never felt so passionately about my potential role within the industry. My interest quickly changed from finished product to process, from trends to thoughtful design, from fast fashion to sustainable and ethical production.