Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five Whats- Hortensia Handmade

After a long long long hiatus, my favorite segment of the blog- Five Whats is back! It is a little Q&A with creative and talented people that I admire, some are friends, and some are strangers that I've become friends with. Today's guest is Michelle Peglau of Hortensia Handmade. I am obsessed with Hortensia ever since I first saw their neck warmer (picture below), everything is hand made by artisans in Peru. Michelle is based in New York and she runs the business with her mother who lives in Peru. I am fascinated that she's from Peru, which is well known for its alpaca wool and handicrafts. I was so happy to meet Michelle in person yesterday at the Divine Studio Holiday Sale, and I bought the beanie hat that she's wearing in the pic! She is such a nice and friendly lady that I know I will keep in touch with for a long long time! Without further ado, here are the five whats:

1. What did you have for breakfast?
Can’t start the day without a cappuccino that I make. I use my Bodum French press and a portable foam maker by Primo Latte. I get my coffee beans at Sweet Leaf in LIC. They sell organic coffee from all over the world by Stumptown Coffee, for me the best. I love eggs, any style, with either baguette or tortillas (a tradition I picked up from my husband) or I have some fruit with some good old Greek yogurt I get in Astoria.

2. What inspire you the most?
Colors…no doubt. That’s what gets me started. Then textures. I am obsessed with that now. I’m planning a lot of it for the new fall collection. Mixing colors, creating patterns and relieves. I have always been very drawn to ancient textiles. Ancient Peruvians made amazing textiles. That’s my most inspiring source right now.

3. What are your favorite things to do in Peru? Any "secret" places that we should know about?
I was born and bred in Peru and fortunately I get to go back a lot. I’m from Lima, the capital of Peru that is by the Pacific Ocean.
My old hood is called Miraflores and I love it because it’s near everything. From my mom’s apartment you can see the sea. I also recommend Barranco, a bohemian neighborhood by the sea cliff. There are many parks, old houses that have been restored and are now art galleries, designer studios, cafes, restaurants, bars.
Lima’s center is also great. Colonial architecture is all around. Some buildings are better kept than others but overall the whole center is coming alive. My favorites are the Museo de Arte de Lima, The Hotel Bolivar and The Plaza de Armas de Lima.

And you can’t leave Lima without having a ceviche and pisco sour. My favorites places to go are La Mar and Costanera 700. This last one is owned by a Japanese chef and blends both Peruvian and Japanese flavors.

4. What is it like in a day of Hortensia?
Every day is so different. We all do bit of everything. Right now I am getting ready for the Holiday season, at the same time planning Fall 2010 and doing everyday office work. What I usually do is plan my days and dedicate my creative time to at least a full day. I don’t read my email or get near a computer!
Since I’m in New York and my mom in Peru (same time zone though) we communicate via email, talk almost every day by skype and discuss our ideas or plans for the next collection. And surprisingly we are always in tune.
Hortensia is collaboration, a constant work in progress. I am very lucky to work with my mom and the ladies that are part of Hortensia’s team. We are all learning from each other, we all trust and respect our roles.

5. What are you doing this holiday season?
I will be working very hard through Christmas!. But after that my husband & me will spend our first Christmas in our new place in Long Island City (In Queens, New York). We are spending New Year’s Eve in Lima with my mom & brothers. We are probably going to stay up all night, watch the sunrise and have an “aguadito” in a little restaurant near the beach.

- Thanks to Michelle who took some time from her busy schedule to answer these questions and sending me some pictures of Peru!
- photo of Costanera 700 ceviche: http://www.thousandflavors.com/

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