The (nice) Iron Lady

Their office is a converted three-story house in a nice neighborhood.

Owned by . . . . Heather and her daughter, Kia      Location . . . . . Lima, Peru

Craft . . . Wool, alpaca and cotton production

Years of relationship . . . 30      Founded in . . . 1982

Super power . . . Making Great Restaurants Appear anywhere in Lima

How we met:

Before she was an exporter, she had a sweater business with two other women.  I saw their store in a shopping mall in Lima in 1986 and asked to speak with the owners.  We did business some years, fell out of touch, and then started doing business again about twenty years later, when she procured me a space on a multi-day jeep trip to the hinterlands of Peru to survey remote knitting groups.  Epic!

Heather's Story

Heather is indomitable.  She came to Peru from Britain as a hippy in the 70’s, fell in love with a Peruvian man, was married and started a family.  Tragically, her husband died in an auto accident, leaving her in a foreign country with four small children.  Despite expectations that she would return to England, she got her affairs in order and doubled down: expanding her business to become an agent and exporter for other producers, as well as her own.  She raised the children and built her company, getting and retaining some large clients.

Heather is a wheel.  She knows everyone in Lima, and perhaps everyone in Peru.  She always has a new group of knitters or weavers in the remote countryside that she is training and procuring work for, or knows just the right designer.  She’s incredibly good natured, tireless, kind and has a wicked sense of humor, delivered in her erudite British accent.  She has endless endurance.  After three hours discussing yarns, colors, knitting patterns and production schedules I’m usually pretty much catatonic, but April shows no fatigue whatsoever.  Her brain is like a supercomputer.

Things we talked about on the last trip: The American election.  The decline in reputation of Lima’s best restaurant.  How she recently crashed a motorized hang-glider (she is in her 60’s).  Her kids.  My kids.  Life in the commune in England where she lived and the sad but inevitable end of their pig.  My son’s interest in deer hunting and my complete incompetence at it.

The Craft: Agent

It takes a certain kind of person to be a wheel.  You have to be the person who everyone likes and is always glad to see.  You have to know suppliers’ strengths and weaknesses and put the right client with the right producer. 

You have to keep calling and calling to keep things on schedule, and, if necessary, show up at the factory to yell at them.  And you have to buy lunch.  A lot.  April is that person and does all that, and she makes it look easy.  Cheers!

See the Brushed Baby Turtleneck

See Alpaca Socks