Happy Friday all! It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to our well-placed CultureBaby Chile buyer, Vanessa Quirk. When she isn't scouring the length and breadth of Chile for the next great CultureBaby product, you can find her blogging for Arch Daily, the world's most visited architecture website. You can also find Vanessa on Twitter @vmquirk.
Today, she tells us all a little about what she loves about her adopted country (she has been living in Santiago for the past 2 years and in the Northern Atacama desert for 6 months before that) and how she came across the beautiful items we now carry in our Chilean collection. Enjoy!
Parenting is decidedly lenient. Any given Sunday, you can find children running rampant in plazas, screaming, playing, crying, hazardously wheeling around in little rented tricycles. Punishment is scant, but sweets are prevalent. Barely a moment goes by that a Chilean child doesn’t have a cookie, a candy, or some sort of manjar-filled confection in his hands. But, most of all, family is paramount to Chilean life, and, as the center of family-life, children are seen as a gifts and valued preciously.
Which is why, when I began searching Chile for Culture Baby products, I knew I had to find something that embodied this uniquely Chilean captivation with and appreciation for childhood.
I first stumbled upon Textil Austral mittens and booties wandering the multi-colored, graffiti-lined hills of Valparaiso. In a tiny shop with quirky, independent designs, the natural gray booties stood apart. When I asked the sales-girl, she said they came from the South, almost in Patagonia, the harshly beautiful landscape that gives Chile its reputation for being the “end of the world.”
The mittens’ maker, native Chilean Andrea Francisca Rubilar del Valle, makes every piece completely by hand, using the spinning/knitting techniques developed over centuries in Southern Chile’s cold, rainy climate. Made only from 100% natural, unprocessed sheep’s wool, her hats, mittens, and booties are designed to protect baby from the cold elements, but more than that, each tiny, playful, colorful detail signaled to me that each piece was crafted with care.
I came to KIDO by way of its passionate creator, Fernanda Henriquez. KIDO Outdoors is all about inspiring your little creature to go outside among nature’s little creatures, and most of all, use his/her imagination. For Fernanda, each character that appears on a KIDO product has his own personality and story (the cheeky little cricket, the bossy miss sheep, the startled owl). Each character’s name appears in both Spanish and Mupudungun, the language of the Mapuche tribe native to Chile, letting you know that no one word could fully capture her, and no one story could ever fully imagine her.
The warm, wooly protection of a Textil Austral mitten or the lovingly envisioned face on a KIDO jumper, for me, captures that protection, that nurturing of childhood that I see everyday in Chile. These products were envisioned and designed to let your child roam, to see the world, through his child’s eye, as a magical place, to let him imagine and play with a smile on his face - and most likely - a candy in hand.