15 Sep Time to say goodbye!
The room that once received me in an almost cold and unwelcoming way, suddenly felt like it was hugging me tightly not wanting to let me go. I sat at the edge of my bed, memories of the last two months flashing before me. The design experience was almost coming to an end, two days before I got on to that plane back home. But where was home?. Home is where your heart decided was and this little village of Salinas was my home. The smell of leather interrupted my thoughts.. I looked around my room, which had also become storage for my prototypes and tears filled my eyes. I felt so proud of my team. Who would have known that from a piece of leather and a few bundles of straw we would produce such a beautiful collection. There had been challenges yes but the majority of times were filled with ideas and a group of women who were so inspiring.
Everyone is born with potential and self belief but the ability to be defined only by the perception of self is more powerful. I saw that in the ladies of Salinas. Once shy, timid and unresponsive to their own creativity, the women now owned their territory.
It felt so unnatural to think of being away from Ecuador. I learnt many lessons. The way and life of the people, how at first I cried Iike a baby, then realizing that while I felt bad for their circumstances, that was their life. A life full of love, thanks giving and support. That is what I would miss, the beautiful spirit of the villagers, “Holla Pamelita”!!
It is easy to take credit for the work, to boast that I am the designer, however if it were not for teamwork, nothing would have been established. In my earlier blog posts I pointed out that designer airs were so 1960!, In this generation, designers were creators of a process that involved many other “designers”, these were people who were self taught, who had no trend influences, who had no social media, but only had a culture so rich and generations of treasure to indulge in. This for me was more precious than my achievement of a first class degree. Humbling myself in this way opened up my mind and allowed me to accept others and their ideas more. A learning process comes from acknowledging that those whom you think cannot teach you anything, actually have something to offer. The design experience changed me. I returned “home” with new abilities, with a renewal of mind, with new eyes, an open heart, a mind full of clarity, a new experience of love, and a suitcase full of gorgeous handbags. Any regrets?.. never! If I could go back to that first night walking into a cold unwelcoming room in the middle of nowhere, I would do it thrice over.
As I closed the door to a room which was now filled with energy and warmth, I knew I would be back. This was just the beginning. Ethical fashion just got very interesting and had changed its meaning. The world is beautiful, people are beautiful, fashion is beautiful. It is about positively giving back to benefit many. So long Salinas!! Thank you ABURY!!