About Us

Hands Across the Andes was established in October 2010 to create a sustainable market for Peruvian handicrafts in Australia. It was founded by Phil Pittman and Gilda Salazar-Leon (Gigi) to promote the artisan's skills and ensure they receive a fair price for their products. Hands Across the Andes is a member of the Fairtrade Association of Australia and New Zealand.

Gigi's Story

Gigi is a professional artisan and business owner with twelve years experience in the industry. Over several years she learned to appreciate colour and composition by working alongside experienced artisans. She loves the unique quality of the Peruvian natural fibres and the way in which artisans create beautiful products from them. Gigi would like to promote her knowledge of Peruvian handicrafts by bringing them to the international market.

During her time in the industry she has witnessed the effort artisans invest in their craft with minimal returns. Gigi believes she can support the artisans and their families by advising them on the design and presentation of their quality products. She wants to assist them to obtain a better price for their craftsmanship.

Gigi has a strong social conscience; she wishes to make a difference for women and children with limited resources, enabling them to help themselves. She believes Hands Across the Andes can become a vehicle which will allow her to support her fellow citizens.

Phil's Story

Since 2006 Phil has spent time in Peru, including visits to Gigi's artisan store in the Indian Market in the Miraflores tourist district of Lima. Phil noticed that some tourists were unaware of the impact of bartering on the stallholders'/artisans' livelihoods. Tourists barter to save themselves a dollar. This might mean very little to most tourists, but has significant effects on the stallholders and the artisans' living standards. There are literally hundreds of stallholders in the Indian Markets, so prices are very competitive.

Additionally, when visiting the home of the artisans with Gigi, Phil observed the difficult conditions under which some of the artisans worked. He also noticed the amount of time and skills involved in producing the products. This inspired Phil to explore ways of supporting the artisans to receive a fair income from their skills and effort.