The inspiration for this photographic project has been the human and cultural processes enveloping the recent but already promising trajectory offered by Chiqa, a start-up conceived by Kiara Kulisic a year ago in Ollantaytambo, Cusco. That initiative derived from its founder’s personal struggles with alopecia, which severely affected her self-image since adolescence. The discovery of the natural look made possible by special wigs delicately crafted with real hair had a profound healing effect on her. That transformative experience prompted Kiara to master the complex techniques involved in the manufacture of those elements, habitually imported as luxury items, and finally set up a Peruvian business that allows her to transfer those skills to Andean weavers. Their shared vision is to introduce the results of their creative labour in the very high end of the international market, with a production primarily made to order, like haute couture.
The economic potential for this endeavour is boundless. The global demand for hair wigs and extensions has been valued at USD 6.13 billion in 2021 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7.63% during the forecast period. The revenue expected in 2030 is USD 11.8 billion. The market size value in 2022 was of USD 6.56 billion and is anticipated to cross the valuation of USD 14.29 billion by 2032.
But, of course, the most rewarding returns are to be defined by more challenging aspects. The empowerment of local communities and subjects and cultures through their proactive engagement with a global economy. A grassroots start-up profoundly involved in the enrichment of people’s lives and human capital.
And that is priceless.
Save for Kiara Kulisic, who is from Lima,
all the weavers involved in this exhibition
were born in Cusco’s Sacred Valley.