It feels great knowing you’re purchasing something that directly supports the creator. And thanks to Rock + Pillar Trading Co, you can do just that without much thought or effort on your end. Rock + Pillar sources handmade products from Peru and offers them to consumers in the United States through their site (thank you, technology!). A community of women in Peru make each product completely by hand. Read on to find out about the dynamic duo behind the brand, and get ready to rock Rock + Pillar from head to toe with their infinity scarves, leather bags, boots and more!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Alma Hartman, and I started Rock + Pillar with my partner, Parvez Pothiawala. We met in Burlington, Vermont but both come from international backgrounds. I was born in Bangalore, India and grew up in Singapore and Vermont. Parvez spent most of his early life in Vermont, but traveled back to India regularly. We met last summer and quickly found we shared many core principles regarding how we viewed our country of residence and the world as a whole.
Why did you decide to start Rock + Pillar?
Parvez and I consider ourselves global citizens first and foremost. We’ve both had experience working for conventional industries and understand the motivation behind organizations that are private and/or profit-driven. Those experiences coupled with our time discovering the rich history of artisanal practices in Peru were the catalysts for starting Rock + Pillar. We want to not only help our producers become economically independent, but we want to help the communities they are a part of benefit as well.
How did you come up with the name?
We came up with our name when I was in Peru working and Parvez was back in the states working for a different startup. We were both going through some trying times and would lean heavily on each other for support. It was during one of our conversations that I called him my “rock” and he said I was his “pillar.” The name was an embodiment of us and also of the principles of this business.
What is your current favorite product in your shop?
Where do you get your inspiration?
Nature. The Peruvian people, especially indigenous cultures of that area, revere the mountains as gods. When you’re actually in the Andes, you start to understand why. That reverence for the environment applies to the largest peaks and the smallest plants. Peruvians’ connection to the land and the land itself is a constant and plentiful source of inspiration.
Describe what a perfect Saturday morning would be for you.
Cusco, Peru. We would walk down to our neighborhood market and grab fresh juice from one of the local mammis. Then we’d eat Sierra-style ceviche river trout with ginger and rice. After that we’d take a beautiful hike in Urubamba or Ollantaytambo (all in the Sacred Valley).
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other small business owners?
It’s one thing to have a passion and creative drive, but to confront the realities of running your own business can be daunting and honestly a drag. But know that all the negative aspects are allowing you to pursue your creative passions.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Without tech, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. We’ve been able to reach our target audiences with the click of a mouse and highlight products from the wilds of Peru to our friends in the U.S. We’ve also been able to employ people in Peru while still traveling the U.S. Our business, simply put, would not exist without tech.
What’s up next for Rock + Pillar?
Back to Peru! Our time in the U.S. has been chockfull of lessons and has really helped us refine our motives and philosophy behind our sustainable goods company. We are heading back to refine our products and to work toward being fully transparent. Plus, we dearly miss those majestic mountains.
Get your handmade artisanal goods over at the Brit + Co Shop!