"We wanted to give a name to our weavings that would represent us... [Kuska] represents us as a couple, as a family, it describes our workshop and our dreams."
"We are Jose and Ayde, Peruvian weavers, and we are known as Kuska. I was born in 1983 while Jose was born in 1981 and both grew up in the same neighborhood. We became friends when I was six years old.
"The 1980s were a difficult time in our town because terrorism was at its highest point and there were very few opportunities. Both of our families overcame many problems to get ahead. I attended school until fourth grade because my family couldn't pay for my education any longer and my father was a victim of terrorism. Jose managed to complete his studies with the help of his mother and brother.
"When I was six years old, my mother and grandmother taught me to weave and embroider like most of the women from my hometown. Jose learned to weave at the age of 13 when his mother sent him to a workshop to learn.
"When I was young, I had to leave my hometown to find new opportunities. I worked as a housekeeper and took care of elderly people in Lima. This allowed me to save up money and finish my education at night. I went on to university to pursue a pharmacy major, but couldn't afford to finish so I went back to work in Lima.
"Jose came to Lima 'with his loom under his arm' and wove in workshops although they didn't pay him a fair wage. He entered the police academy but, when he was assigned to a dangerous area in the jungle, we decided we had already lived through too many wars. Jose then enlisted in the Peruvian army and continued weaving in his spare time.
"In 2007, Jose was offered a job in a workshop four hours from the city. It was a good job with fair pay and health insurance. We went there together and Jose wove while I embroidered. In 2008, our first daughter was born and, when she began school, we moved back to our hometown so that we'd be closer to our family. We knew our little girl would get a good education there.
"Back in our hometown, in 2013, we decided to set up a workshop of our own at home. We wanted to give a name to our weavings that would represent us. Jose wanted to name it Qari, which means 'strong man,' then Yupi, which means 'footprint' in the Quechua language. I didn't like either name because they sounded like ice cream or yogurt brands. We consulted with our friend Antonio, and he recommended something better.
"One day, with the entire family gathered, he mentioned the name Kuska Llankasun, which means 'to work together.' We felt this should be our name because it represents us as a couple, as a family, it describes our workshop and our dreams. We wound up choosing the name Kuska, which means 'together.'
"We would like our workshop to be recognized and be remembered because it sustains our family, which has grown because we have another daughter now, born in 2015. We love to innovate and we have so many ideas we'd like to develop!
"Today, we have eight helpers in our workshop and give 20 mothers work to embroider at home. They live in a district that's 45 minutes away. Jose is master weaver and enjoys teaching young people who come to the workshop.
"Our inspiration comes from our traditions and we integrate them into new trends. We love combining them with colors and textures. We use alpaca fleece and wool yarns, and we dye some of them ourselves. We love our work and want shoppers to know who we are and to enjoy our art."