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$40,835

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Meet Aula Artesana.

Based in the heart of Cusco, Aula Artesana is a women-founded retail and learning space with a focus on inclusivity, transparency, sustainability and social good.

We collaborate with artisan communities in the highlands and jungles of Peru to offer a unique, curated collection of handmade, fair-trade products, from textiles to ceramics and beyond. We also host immersive workshops with master makers in their home studios and communities, where guests can learn and experience the creative process of making these goods. In all that we do, we aim to facilitate intimate environments where buyers and makers become students and teachers, fostering a connection that goes beyond the transactional to share knowledge, experience and passion for handmade goods.

“Aula Artesana” means “artisan classroom,” and our next goal is to bring our name to life. With your help, we want to open Aulita: a new boutique, cafe and learning space, all in one, in historic Cusco, Peru.

Meet the founders.

We’re Steph and Sonya. We first met at the Cusco airport on Steph’s very first day in Peru back in 2017, and we quickly became friends and colleagues. But before that serendipitous meeting, our paths took a roundabout route to bring us both to Cusco. 

Steph on the left, Sonya on the right!

Steph spent years working in nonprofit community-led initiatives and living in Ecuador and Bolivia before moving to Peru. Sonya lived and worked in New York City until a late-night epiphany convinced her to pick up and move “temporarily” to Cusco. Once here, we got to work, digging deep to learn as much as we could about our new home. (We’re both permanently based here now, and we feel so lucky to call it home.)

Brought together by our love of the diverse artisanal products of Peru, as well as our shared values of ethical business practices, human engagement and collaboration, we first began to dream up Aula in a cafe in Cusco’s San Blas neighborhood in August 2018. We quickly honed our values, ordered our first stock of artisan products and prepared to open shop. By October 2018, our store was open to the public, and we celebrated that December with a launch event with friends and colleagues (complete with tapas, drinks and live music).

A toast at our launch party, and the chalkboard right inside the Aula Artesana shop to display our motto

In the spring of 2019, we dedicated time to visiting our artisan partners to connect face to face. We also focused on developing our branding and launching our website and online market, and then strategizing for our pilot Tintes & Textiles workshop in September. 

Visiting our partners Nicanor, Juana and Liz in the highland jungle of Huyro to learn all about their organically grown tea

That workshop -- a five-day, all-inclusive retreat -- was a joyful, educational success, with a group of nine creatives joining us to get their hands dirty in dye pots and weave their own backstrap textiles. And that experience just reinforced the next big goal we already knew was on its way as we headed towards the company’s first birthday in October: opening our new space called Aulita.

Laughs and learning in equal measure during our Tintes & Textiles retreat

About the project, Aulita, and why we need your help!

Now that we’re officially one year old, we’re ready to expand! We’ve been searching for a new store space, and we’ve finally found “the one” that will allow us ample room to grow and share our vision and that of our partners. The more room we have, the more…

  • artisan goods we can stock, including all sorts of new products
  • income our artisan partners can bring home to their families
  • workshops we can run, both in the space itself and in our partners’ communities
  • opportunities for connection and exchange

We also want to build a space where visitors can sit and stay a while, whether enjoying an organic Peruvian coffee or delving into a photo series from a recent community visit.

In order to bring our bigger, brighter shop and cafe space to life, we need funding support. Crowdfunding felt like the perfect approach, since we’ve always been all about collaboration and community. By pledging, you’ll be joining our Aula Artesana family of artisans and art-lovers from around the world, and you’ll be helping our sustainable, fair-trade, socially-minded enterprise thrive.

Right now, the space serves as a two-level taco shop, full of Mexico-inspired decor. We fell in love with its bright natural lighting, its high ceilings, and its airy atmosphere, with so many cozy corners we can fill with plants, armchairs, and artisan products.
The bar downstairs (LEFT) will be transformed to our coffee bar, with the walls repainted a fresh white and textiles all around. The kitchen on the top floor (RIGHT) will become an office space where we can store extra product stock and hold meetings with our artisan partners and team.
We'll hang photos of our artisan communities all the way up the stairs (LEFT) that'll lead you from the bottom floor to the top, where a picturesque window (RIGHT), complete with a balcony, illuminates the whole room -- an expansive space for sitting, snacking, and chatting.
Here it is now on the left, and on the right is what we're planning to create: think comfy couches, lush plants, and textiles from top to bottom

Our budget.

Here’s how our overall $40,000 funding goal breaks down. The largest slice of the money will go towards building out the space, which needs a full renovation, all furniture and decorations, and basic appliances, along with an initial rent payment. The next largest slice will go towards fair wages for our employees and payments to our artisan partners for their handmade products. We’ve also allotted a small portion of funds to cover Kickstarter’s fee.

Aulita Project Budget

Our timeline.

Since we’ll be moving from one space to another, we can get this project up and running quickly, so long as we have the funds to do so. Here’s the timeline we have in mind:

October 18th - November 18th: Kickstarter campaign!

Late November through December: We’ll begin renovating, furnishing and decorating our new space, aiming to open the store in December.

January: We’ll officially open Aulita and host a launch event, which all backers will be invited to!

Rewards!

Here's a selection of rewards that you could receive for supporting Aula! Please read the detailed descriptions of each reward down the right side of the page. 

A selection of rewards for Aula backers
New Reward! Our top-selling, super soft Alpaca Scarf
100% handmade, 100% cozy Alpaca Scarf
NOW PERMANENT Shipibo Mug
NOW PERMANENT Black Clay Mug
Limited edition exclusive yarn from Pichinku - 100% naturally dyed by hand, available only through Sunday 11/10!
Limited edition, exclusive yarn from Pichinku - 100% naturally dyed by hand, available only through Sunday 11/10!

A word from the Aula Artesana community - here’s what people say about our workshops…

“Where do I begin?! This workshop exceeded my expectations times ten. Our group got an extensive, hands-on education in natural dyeing with numerous locally-sourced materials (including some wild botanicals we got to forage ourselves!) and weaving on backstrap looms, partnered with artisans whose expertise was consistently matched with welcoming warmth. All in all, I can't say enough good things about this retreat and its balance of learning and play.” - Leah (Los Angeles, CA)

“I had the best experience with Aula Artesana. As a fiber artist from Peru, I was looking to gain some knowledge of traditional techniques from communities in Cusco, and they didn't disappoint. We were introduced to local dyeing and weaving techniques, experiences that I couldn't have planned on my own being from Peru.” - Mariana (Lima, Peru)

“A week after my adventure with Aula in Peru and I'm still processing the magical things we did, the awe inspiring places we saw, and the beautiful people we met along the way. Sonya and Steph are master facilitators, educators, communicators, and overall badass women that make me want to become a better human. I learned so much being around them, and from the beginning was made to feel like family. What we learned during our workshop was unique and intimate in a way that I've never encountered before in an immersion program. I learned so much about the communities we visited, and I feel strongly that we made an actually meaningful connection across cultures.” - Matt (Santa Fe, NM)

"As an avid traveler, I feel pretty confident in my ability to seek out really special experiences on the road. But there is absolutely no way I would ever be able to curate a trip like this alone. The access to centuries old practices and traditions, via remote communities and seasoned was a constant throughout the week. Highly recommend for anyone seeking a truly immersive experience in the artisan culture of the Sacred Valley." - Allison (Joshua Tree, CA)

The full group at the end of Tintes & Textiles in September

...and what they say about our current Aula Artesana shop.

“I was so happy to have stumbled upon Aula Artesana during my time in Cusco. It was the perfect place to buy fair trade gifts for my friends and family back home, and they work directly with the people making the crafts, so you feel great about the purchase and also have a story to tell when you gift the products!”

“This store is amazing! They have a great selection of beautiful products from all over Peru, which was a nice break from all the similar things I saw throughout Cusco!”

“I loved hearing the stories behind the products - It was a learning experience as well as a shopping one… Can't beat the cozy and the colorful.”

“All the stuff is fair trade and the store seems to take its mission really seriously. Plus, the shop has a really cool vibe.”

The current Aula Artesana boutique.

Our values.

Our core values of inclusivity, transparency, sustainability and social good are reflected throughout our business, guiding our approach to relationships with our employees, partners, guests and planet. You can read the specifics on our website, here: www.aulaartesana.com/values.

From fair market compensation, to creative freedom for our artisan partners and team, to carefully designed retreats for our guests, to building sustainable choices for the environment into every aspect of our business -- our values direct everything we do. And at the heart of everything, you’ll find...

Our artisan partners.

Many of our partners come from Indigenous communities and draw on traditional knowledge to make their products. Their expertise around where and how to gather materials and dye plants, weaving, symbology, sustainable agriculture and farming, ceramics and much more has traditionally been passed down through generations of Indigenous communities.

However, cultural devaluation has historically excluded this knowledge and the people who wield it from the market, causing many communities to themselves devalue and lose these practices. Through collaborations with Aula and other outlets, our partners are looking for opportunities to revive traditional artisan practices and reach a greater audience, ultimately revaluing their art and culture.

Our weaving partners in Patacancha include women like Elena, Hermenegilda and Nicolasa, who work generously and patiently as one-on-one mentors (and friends) with our Tintes & Textiles workshop participants: 

Meet Angela, Santusa, and Leonarda, the three sisters of Pichinku Yarn who make naturally-dyed skeins in a rainbow of colors, all from botanical materials sourced around their workshop in Lamay:

In Palca, Tiodoro and Juana make the coziest, most luxurious alpaca shawls and blankets from their home and weaving studio:

Elsa lives in Palma Real, where the weavers make joyous baskets and fans out of strong tamshi tree vines and natural plant and seed dyes:

Nicanor, Juana and Liz, a family from the highland jungle of Huyro, produce organically grown tea and are highly knowledgeable about all of the medicinal uses of the plants that grow in the area: 

And that's just the beginning. It's a joy and an honor to work with these skilled artisans and friends from all around the stunning country of Peru, and we're so excited to introduce them to you as we bring Aulita to life. 

Learn more, stay connected and share.

Risks and challenges

Since we’ve been operating for over a year, found a space to move into, and work with a dedicated team who can help us set up and run Aulita, there are few risks associated with our project.

Because each piece from our artisan partners is handmade and unique, production is time-consuming and a little unpredictable. It is also often reliant on good weather conditions -- for example, ceramics need time to dry in the sun, a process made more difficult during rainy season (October-March).

Moving to a larger store means a greater demand for goods and more products for our partners to produce. We’ll manage this influx by auditing our current inventory and calculating our future product needs. This way, we’ll know how much new stock we’ll need to kit out Aulita and place orders with our partners well in advance.

For these reasons, we have given ourselves up to 6 months to send out the pledge rewards -- ensuring that our partners will have enough time to carefully produce all the items needed.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Thank you!

    Every little bit helps! To show our gratitude, we’ll send you a thank you email and give you a shout-out on social media and include you as an official Aulita backer on our website. Be sure to send us your Insta handle!

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    Meet our Partners (video style)

    We’ll be visiting our partners and bragging about you and your contribution, and we’ll send you a video from our partners thanking you for your pledge, along with a heartfelt thank you email and web/Insta shout-out.

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    A Note from Our Founders

    Aula and our partners thank you for believing in our vision! We’ll be sending you a custom Aula postcard, handwritten and signed by Aula founders Sonya and Steph - a little something extra to accompany your thank-you email and online shout-outs.

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    Pledge US$ 40 or more About US$ 40

    LIMITED TIME Black Clay OR Shipibo Mug

    LIMITED TIME ONLY! For a few lucky backers, we're offering the chance to get a single handmade ceramic mug from EITHER our Black Clay or Shipibo collection. Each one retails for $50 or more - a steal!

    The Black Clay Mugs are made in by just a few families from the community of Santo Tomas by mixing clay and ash, resulting in the stunning black pigment - no dyes, glazes or paints!

    The Shipibo Mugs are made by Leidy Martinez and her family, from the northern jungle region of Peru. Each piece is unique and exemplifies the Shipibo style of painting and design.

    We only have a few of these babies, so grab them while they last! Check our updates for photos of these beauties.

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Aula Swag

    A little bit of Aula love from our home to yours. We’ll be sending you our custom-designed Aula bookmarks and tote bags (hand-stamped here in Cusco!).

    Plus! A hand-written postcard, thank you email and video from our partners, along with your shout-out on our website and Insta.

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    LIMITED + CUSTOM Pichinku Yarn + Pattern

    We have a super special offer brought to you by our dear friends from Pichinku - one skein of this limited-edition 100% naturally dyed merino + silk yarn in a never-before-seen custom color, just for you Aulistas. Lightweight and joyous, it's perfect for springtime knitting.
    And to get you started, we're offering the Harvest Cowl pattern thanks to the fabulous Vanessa Black. This is for all the fiber arts enthusiasts out there - we've heard you, and can't wait to see what you create!

    We're so excited to bring you this special offer, but we only have a few! Snag yours before it's too late -- coziness is just around the corner! All yours for $50 including shipping - a steal!

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    Pledge US$ 75 or more About US$ 75

    Wall Hanging - Home decor made with love

    Yearning for one of the beautiful wall hangings we create in our Tintes & Textiles workshops? Now’s your chance to snag one, handmade by the master weavers in Patacancha and perfect for a spot on your wall in need of a little pizzazz.

    And yes, Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video, and online shout-out also included :)

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    You Choose! Mugs vs. Fan + Wall of Fame

    This is where things get interesting - choose between a pair of striking black ceramic mugs or a joyous hand-woven fan from the Peruvian jungle. Rewards for all seasons - we’ve got you covered.

    As an extra thank you, your name will become a permanent part of Aulita, inscribed on our highly coveted Wall of Fame.

    Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video, and online shout-out - goes without saying!

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    NEW Super-Soft Alpaca Scarf

    One of our top sellers, the ultra-cozy Alpaca Scarf. Handmade by Tiodoro and Juana, alpaca farmers and fiber experts. 100% natural, 100% sustainable, 100% handmade and naturally dyed -- and 200% the softest alpaca scarf ever!

    Normally retails for $115 with shipping, but we love you :) and think everyone should have a scarf this soft!

    And before you ask - all swap and shout-outs included too!

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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About US$ 150

    Woven Art - Patacancha Scarf

    An iconic textile piece from the Andean weaving tradition. Each scarf takes about a week to make, with hand-spun, hand-dyed wool from the weaving community. We’ll have these pieces made specially for our Aulita backers, each one with its own color palette and design.

    And don’t forget your Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video, online shout-out and Wall of Fame status!

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Pillowcases - Our favorite accessory

    One of our best-selling products, and it’s easy to see why. Our pillowcases are designed by the weavers themselves, incorporating Quechua symbology and each weavers’ own design aesthetic. Our couches are already full of these beauties… but you can never have too many pillows!

    Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video, online shout-out and Wall of Fame honors - you guessed it. 100% included!

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Community Visit + Pachamanca Lunch

    Aula is all about collaboration and facilitation, so we're inviting you to join us for an intimate day in the community of Patacancha. Meet the weavers and learn about their art and traditions, and then enjoy an unbelievable Pachamanca (earth oven) lunch with the community (take a look at our TripAdvisor page to see just how delicious this lunch really is). Finally, you’ll have the chance to purchase handmade textiles directly from the weavers before saying “hasta luego” and heading back to Cusco.

    This trip, guided by Sonya and Steph, includes transportation to and from the community, a delicious lunch along with your much-deserved Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video, online shout-out and Wall of Fame honors.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Handmade Alpaca Blanket

    If you’re not able to make a trip down this way, we certainly don’t want you to miss out. We’ve created some of the softest, coziest, handmade alpaca blankets with our artisan partners in Puno. Tiodoro and Juana raise their own alpacas and create all their pieces from scratch - from shearing the alpaca to processing the wool to hand-dyeing and weaving the pieces. The result: super-soft alpaca blankets made sustainably in Peru.

    And no, we haven’t forgotten - Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video, online shout-out and Wall of Fame honors coming your way.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    One Day Workshop + #Aulista Status

    Join the Aula team for a private one-day workshop in the Cusco area. We invite you to choose from our ever-growing one-day trips, from natural dyeing to craft distilling. You’ll be accompanied by Aula founders Sonya and Steph, and have plenty of one-on-one time with our partners and our team to ask questions and get your hands dirty.

    This reward includes transportation to and from the workshop and a delicious lunch along with your much-deserved Aula swag, handwritten postcard, thank you email and video. And when we feature you on our website, our social media and our Wall of Fame, your name will be included in our #Aulista status section.

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    Custom Textile + #Aulista Status

    A custom piece for the budding designer - collaborate with Aula and our artisan partners to create your own one-of-a-kind wall hanging or rug, made specially for you. We’ll facilitate the design process with our partners to ensure that your piece reflects your tastes and keep you updated as it progresses.

    Once your design is finished, we’ll ship it to you along with your Aula swag and handwritten postcard. And when we feature you on our website, our social media and our Wall of Fame, your name will be included in our #Aulista status section.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Immersive Weaving Workshop

    To show our gratitude for your generosity, our partners will open up their homes to host you for a private two-day weaving workshop in the community of Patacancha.

    This experience includes a journey high up into the mountains, where you’ll learn traditional techniques of washing, spinning and dyeing. You’ll partner up with your profesora, a master weaver, who will guide you slowly but surely through the weaving process, helping you to create your own woven piece to take home.

    This experience, guided by Aula founders Steph and Sonya, includes transportation to and from the workshop, an overnight stay in a boutique hotel, meals and materials, along with your Aula swag and handwritten postcard, thank you email and video and #Aulista status, online and in-store.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Curated Collection of Artisan Goods

    For the art lovers, the collectors, the ones who find themselves stuffing their suitcases full of treasures every time they take a trip. We’ll consult with you to create a 5-piece custom assortment of handmade goods, curated especially for you based on your home decor style and preferences. Once selected, we’ll send your collection of goods straight to your door, where they’ll be ready to add a new design element to your home.

    By now, we’re a bit repetitive - swag, postcard, thank yous and video, #Aulista status - it’s all yours!

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    Pledge US$ 4,000 or more About US$ 4,000

    5-Day All-Inclusive Weaving Retreat

    We are excited and honored to invite you to our Tintes & Textiles workshop! Over the course of six days, our artisan partners will guide you through the entire textile process, in their communities using traditional techniques. When we’re not elbows-deep in fiber arts, we’ll spend our time enjoying the breathtaking landscape, hiking, exploring, relaxing, and of course indulging in the world-class gastronomy of the Sacred Valley.

    As our top #Aulista, we would like to treat you to an all-expenses-paid workshop retreat, an unforgettable experience shared with our team, our founders and our artisan partners. Need some convincing? Check out some of our workshop testimonials to the left or via TripAdvisor.

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    Pledge US$ 4,000 or more About US$ 4,000

    Extended Collection + Custom Design

    Art collector meets designer - why pick and choose when you can have both? This reward combines the best of previous ones: a curated collection of handmade goods, 8 pieces to be exact, chosen in consultation with you to perfectly fit your home aesthetic.

    In addition, we’ll facilitate a creative collaboration between you and our artisan partners to custom design a one-of-a-kind rug or wall hanging, that extra element that will bring the whole collection together.

    As our top #Aulista, we want to create something truly special and just for you. And not to be a broken record, but just to make sure - swag, postcard, thank yous and video, #Aulista status - are all coming your way!

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    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    LIMITED + CUSTOM Pichinku Yarn + Pattern

    We have a super special offer brought to you by our dear friends from Pichinku - two skeins of this limited-edition 100% naturally dyed merino + silk yarn in a never-before-seen custom color, just for you Aulistas.joyous, Lightweight and joyous, it's perfect for springtime knitting.
    And to get you started, we're offering the Harvest Cowl pattern thanks to the fabulous Vanessa Black. This is for all the fiber arts enthusiasts out there - we've heard you, and can't wait to see what you create!

    We're so excited to bring you this special offer, but we only have a few! Snag yours before it's too late -- coziness is just around the corner!

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
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Funding period

- (30 days)