When I first learned about Blossom Inspirations, I have to admit, I was mostly interested in their incredibly fluffy alpaca fur toys. I was smitten because I like all things soft. Their story, however, melted my cynical Southern Californian heart far more than even their fluffiest stuffed toy.
Today, I have the privilege of talking to Blossom Inspirations’ founder, Peruvian native Rosa Chang. We chat about her work helping to bring gorgeous artisanship from Peru out onto the global stage and improving native communities in the process.
The inspiration for Blossom Inspirations
Rosa told me that she first left Peru in 2001 when she headed to Mexico for her Master’s Degree. Her academic work really forced her to think about the struggles of her native Peru- what are the needs of the communities? What resources do those communities have?
She and her partner on the ground, Jorge Cam, noted that beautiful hand crafted goods faced an incredible amount of competition, but that “there was nothing really comparable in American markets.” Together, they worked to gather a small handful of artisans and helped them with their designs to improve quality enough to compete with the best western markets had to offer.
So, uh… Alpacas?
I have to confess, other than being emblematic of Peruvian culture, Alpacas were a unique choice for the American market. Her response surprised me: “In the United States, Alpacas are trendy right now. They are used in television and advertisements. Insurance Companies are talking about llamas… I don't know what Lammas have to do with insurance…”
Holy, Moley, she’s right. Upon reflection, they’re EVERYWHERE. But the real drivers of the products? The kids.
“Kids are Blossom Inspirations’ best customers. They’ll ask their parents for our toys after feeling how soft they are, and if the parents say no, the kids will ask to spend their OWN money,” she noted with a laugh.
And kids appear to be clamoring for them. Sales are significant, particularly in the colder midwestern states where the warm alpaca fur is particularly attractive. And Rosa’s always listening to the market, addings new animals to Blossoms Inspirations’ lineup like elephants, hamsters, roosters, and more. What's next? Unicorns? Pandas? Wouldn’t you like to know...
The impact in the Peruvian artisan’s lives cannot be overstated. With fair trade certification, 100% of profits going into their hands, and Blossom Inspiration’s enormous front end investment in materials on their behalf, Peruvian families inside and outside the capital of Lima are seeing a significant increase in their standard of living.
Rosa has since moved to Chicago and has a day job in the corporate sector, so Blossom Inspirations is her passion outside of work. “This is my way of giving back to my country,” she told me. She wants to “preserve and share Peru’s beautiful culture and… improve the people’s lives.”
And there’s a sort of “teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime” element to Blossom Inspiration’s process as well. As the artisans are taught to work with specific quality and delivery times in mind, they develop the flexibility and understanding of expectations that allow them to branch out and offer other products to the American market. Rosa noted how surprised she gets as “these artisans help us with so many new innovations as they master the projects we give them.”
This is what we love so deeply about Blossom Inspirations. Their products are motivated by a desire to improve lives through creativity and artisanship, not profit. Don’t get me wrong, Profit is nice, but profit without a heart? Without compassion? That’s not what we believe in. And you can feel that heart in every squeeze of your llama.