As the Thanksgiving season rolls around each year, I become nostalgic for my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. This year’s Thanksgiving nostalgia marked the 7th year anniversary of my return to the US after a roller coaster Peace Corps experience. I surprised my family (I hadn’t returned to the US in 2.5 years) the eve of Thanksgiving in 2005. Thanksgiving in my family is a big celebration at my parents’ house in the Chicago suburbs. Cousins come from NYC and Portland. Over glasses of wine and baked brie, we talk about the past year and the evening typically ends with a shopping spree in the basement where I share the latest Mayu designs — this year there was a lot to share from our 2012 Fall collection of alpaca scarves and alpaca hats hand knit in Peru. The evening made me reflect on those that have inspired me throughout my journey as the owner of Mayu…

This photo was taken my first month in the Peace Corps with my host sisters. Mayu is the smallest of the three and she is the inspiration behind this social enterprise. I am particularly fond of this picture because this was the first time my three host sisters — Mayu included — took me to the “chacra”, the fields high in the Andes Mountains where they grow dozens of types of potatoes. That day we harvested potatoes. I remember it like it was yesterday; it was just the beginning of what would become a very fruitful relationship with the Peruvian community where I was living.

Since meeting Mayu and her sisters and the talented knitters that create our one-of-a-kind alpaca accessories, we’ve all come a long way…we’ve learned lots from one another about our cultures, the challenges of starting a small business, creating the perfect alpaca scarves and hats, and so much more. I’m grateful to have been introduced to the knitters as well as my host sisters. Seven years later we continue to remain connected and I am happy that I’ve been able to support them with additional income through the sale of our alpaca scarves and hats.

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