Willy’s family has been making handicrafts for 40 years. His maternal grandmother, Leonarda Bermudez, taught all of her children and grandchildren the business. Today, four of her children and eight of her grandchildren are artisans. Willy was raised by his mother, Blanca Flores Bermudez, a teacher. He has never met his father.
Willy worked at a phone company until about six years ago, when health concerns forced him to quit. It was at this time that he decided to learn how to make jewelry. He began in a small artisan workshop making necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Within six months, he had learned enough to start his own small business. Over the years, he has continued to learn how to make other handicrafts. He has worked with stamped leather, ceramics, seed jewelry, alpaca silver jewelry, semiprecious stone jewelry and macramé.
In November 2010, Willy opened his own shop in Lima, where he sells his own products as well as work from artisans around the city. He estimates that he has been able to give work to 100 other artisans, some of whom are now working independently. Currently, he employs 15 people, who work from their homes or their own shops.
Willy has been working with Minga since 2010. His dream is own his own shop, and hopes to buy the space he is renting in a few years. Willy says, “I like following in the footsteps of my aunts and grandmother.”
Willy is 36 years old and has two children: Victor, 16; and Fabricio, 7. They live in Lima, Perú.