Endless summer with Raphia & Arena

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No two bags are alike from this Peruvian company that works with female artisans in Piura.

Does inspiration fall into your hands or do you have to search for it?

In late 2016, Paloma Garcia toured northern Peru looking for that sweet inspiration that only the salty coastal cities of this nation could provide. Already captivated by the materials and colors used in the woven bags so characteristic of areas like Piura and Tumbes, Paloma found herself most drawn to the artisans responsible for the colorful craft.

Today, Raphia & Arena is a company of woven, over-sized handbags that shout summer and bring with it a tone of natural, understated beauty. How else will we survive this endless summer without a tool that allows us to behave (or misbehave) in a spontaneous manner? Throw your swimsuit, bottle of sunscreen and a towel into one of these bags and you’re off for a weekend trip; during the week, change the routine and fill it with portable snacks to enjoy a sunset picnic.

bags
(Photo courtesy of Raphia & Arena)

Living in Peru spoke with Raphia & Arena’s founder to dig a little deeper into this summer’s most useful and eye-catching accessory:

How did this idea to create these woven bags come about?
I've always liked accessories, especially bags. After finishing my master's I decided it was the moment to create something with an added value and that I was passionate about, so I created this brand of bags woven by Peruvian artisans. I wanted to provide work for more women and to make an honest, eco-friendly product. As well, all of our bags are distinct, no two are 100% alike and this is what gives it the added value I was looking for in starting my own business. It separates it from the rest.

purple
(Photo courtesy of Raphia & Arena)

What’s behind the name, Raphia & Arena?
The name Raphia & Arena is divided into two concepts. Raphia is a humanization of one of the fibers most commonly used for making baskets and other products in northern Peru, rafia [raffia in English]. Raphia represents a modern, creative woman, one who loves summer and the beach. The name Arena gives that connection to the brand's main inspiration: the landscapes, colors, and textures of an eternal summer.

One of the standout features of the brand is that all bags are handmade and thus unique. Who is responsible for the craft?
The colors, shape, ans size of the bags are designed by me, [then]are completely hand woven (from the basket itself to the ornaments and decorations) by an association of artisan women from Piura.

Where in Lima can we find Raphia & Arena products?
Verní¡cula [any of three locations], Fascino La Galerí­a [San Isidro], Biombo [La Molina] and soon from the brand’s website.

Visit Raphia & Arena on Facebook.

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Agnes Rivera

A U.S. native plucked from the green surroundings of her home state of Oregon, Agnes Rivera has been living in Lima, Peru, fulfilling various occupations such as teaching, translating, and journalism. While indoors she uses her time creatively to build "recycled art" and read fiction, she is quick to use any excuse to be outdoors, balancing her inner home-body lifestyle with an adventurous spirit to explore all that Peru has to offer.