Kelli Bee Photography
The shops inside boutique hotels such as the 1 Hotel West Hollywood are stocked with carefully curated items that deepen one’s desire for travel. Through her extensive travels, National Geographic photojournalist Laura Grier is keenly aware of this, and amidst the on-trend semiprecious stone jewellery and high-end beachwear, it was the perfect place for her to introduce her new Andeana Hats collection, along with interchangeable Intention hat bands, bags, and even luxury–expedition travel packages.
As we all love and covet conversation-starting wearable souvenirs, we can relate to the backstory behind the collection. While trekking together on the challenging Ausangate trek across the Rainbow Mountains and the Sacred Valley, Laura and partner Pats Krysiak made the acquaintance of many amazing Andean women and were captivated with their unique hats and weavings. Andeana Hats came from this inspiration. While the hats look as good on the streets of New York, Paris, or Wellington as they do the Andes, Laura hopes they will draw awareness to the Quechua female artisans and their cultural practices. It was the perfect occasion for her to discuss the spirituality of hats in the Quechua culture and what the hat you wear says about you.
Beyond the hats being sharp and versatile, Laura explained they are products of the descendants of the Inca people who are practising what National Geographic defines as ‘vanishing art’, combining ancient weaving and embroidering tradition passed down through the centuries by the women in their culture. Laura and Pats recognized bringing the Quechua women’s artistry to the global market-place would enable their traditions to live on. ‘The Quechua language is an oral or woven language, not written, so by keeping these weaving designs alive we are essentially keeping their language and history alive,’ Laura explains.
Every Andeana hat and Intention band is hand-shaped or woven out of alpaca wool in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Furthermore, Andeana Hats has global partnerships with Awamaki, a non-profit organization based in the Sacred Valley of Peru, and Tinte Maya, a collective of female weavers in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala. Both organizations empower women and connect indigenous communities in the remote Andes mountain regions of Peru and Lake Atítlan, Guatemala to global market-places.
In addition to the collection of hats, bags, and other accessories, Laura and Pats’ company, under the Andeana Travel banner, offers Inspirational Journeys through the Sacred Valley, inspired by Laura’s travel experiences as a National Geographic photographer. As her multifaceted career is something every avid traveller covets, these sustainability-focused journeys are not only enlightening, but allow participants to see for themselves in real time how the artisans create their goods, how they are empowered to support their families, and how economic opportunities for the greater population are created.
This article also appears in Lucire Rouge.