Many of our employees come from diverse backgrounds, there is no “typical” Zaw artisan but they do have a lot in common; intellectually curious, uncommonly friendly and adventurous – they make Zaw shine. One of our stellar employees, Jose Valencia from the Queen Anne store brought a taste of Zaw to his native Peru.
Jose originally moved to the Seattle-area five years ago from Lima, Peru. A former accountant, he sought change and independence in the U.S. Before landing at Zaw as the company’s first delivery driver, Jose worked an eclectic mix of jobs, including a research analyst and a mix of fast food restaurants.
Jose said he decided to take his Zaw shirt with him by chance on his trip to Peru, it was in my laundry pile and I thought, “Why not?’ he said. The next day, he was on a plane headed for Lima to see his parents and siblings. Jose’s homecoming was a Christmas surprise to his mother, who hadn’t seen him in the last five years. He woke her up at 3 a.m. by playing her favorite song on the guitar.
Jose and his wife, Alexandra, were excited to begin exploring his native Peru. Despite its cultural significance, Jose had never been to Machu Picchu. They set out at 4 a.m. to explore the ruins of the Inca site. Jose said the fog and rain in the early morning gave the site a mystic feeling, he was stunned by its history and beauty.
“I started to cry,” he said. “It was too much for my eyes to take in.”
Jose and Alexandra reached a lookout point via a treacherous hike, while taking in the gorgeous view, Jose remembered his Zaw shirt and broke it out in a moment of picture-taking inspiration.
Although Machu Picchu was the highlight of the trip, Jose also attended the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria in Puno, Peru. The festival is a cultural weeklong celebration honoring the Virgen of Candelaria, the patron saint of Puno. A mix of Catholic and native traditions culminate in a procession, which carries the statue of the Virgen around the city, and dancers in lavish costumes join the parade. The dancers, by group, pause in front of the cathedral to be blessed with holy water. Jose said he recommends the festival to anyone who wants to connect with a vibrant part of Peruvian culture.
A procession of dancers celebrate the patron saint of Puno.
Elaborate costumes are a visually striking part of the celebration.
Jose spent a total of two months in Peru and while he enjoyed seeing his family and friends in his native country, he says he truly feels at home in Seattle and at Zaw.
“When I came back from Peru, there were new people working at the store, but they did not seem like strangers to me because I knew they were part of the Zaw family.”
Where will the Zaw shirt travel next?