She was born in Cochas, in the highlands of Peru, in 1976 into a family of artists. She learned from her parents the art of gourd making when she was 9 years old, and enjoyed giving a hand as needed after school. At 18, after finishing high school, she started working formally in her dad’s workshop and became one of their best carvers.
In 2007 she married Oscar and together they started creating their unique gourd collection for Lucuma Designs. Soon after, Ana Maria was introduced to a new way of life in the big city. Her mom required specialized care in Lima and Ana Maria accompanied her for months at a time. In 2009 with the support of one of her sisters, who was already living there, Ana Maria, Oscar and their first daughter Yamile, moved to Lima hoping to find better opportunities.
Moving from a peaceful Andean town of only a few thousand, to the many times chaotic city of 11 million, brought in itself a cultural shock. She recognizes that starting from scratch in the big city, learning to move around, and make new friends has not been easy. Ana Maria still misses the beautiful green landscapes, pure water and clean air of Cochas. But there are good things too, “In Cochas, I could only sell my extra gourds during Sunday’s fair in Huancayo, but here, I can sell them daily. Also, in Lima it is easier to find materials and tools to do my work.“.
Also, since she moved close to Apumano, our Lima office, she has become a frequent visitor. She even celebrated her birthday with us, telling our team that we were like family.
After hard work, Oscar and Ana Maria saved enough to buy their own lot and build their home and workshop in Manchay in the outskirts of Lima. In 2016, their second daughter Briana was born.
Today, Ana Maria enjoys teaching and sharing with Limeños the art of gourd making, but finding consistent and qualified helpers to give them a hand during the high season has been a struggle.
There is much this couple is proud of and also a lot still to conquer. They are confident that their gourds have a unique style and quality that sets them apart. As wife and husband, they enjoy sharing work as well as their family chores... “When I am carving or painting, Oscar makes breakfast and lunch. When Oscar has to draw or burn, I am in charge of cooking. The same is true for taking care of our daughters. We talk it all over and work it out as a team.”
Despite their hard work, out of love, all is possible. Ana Maria is convinced that any sacrifice for her daughters is well worth it. She believes that in Lima, their kids have access to much better education and with that comes hope for a brighter future.