Primeros Pueblos – First People – : a new space offering exclusive products from southern Chile at Casacostanera

The store seeks to bring people closer to the tradition and culture of rural communities in the south under the rules of fair trade, respecting the traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Primeros Pueblos opened for the first time this past Wednesday, offering the products of 18 different enterprises from several parts of the Biobío and Araucanía regions.

Only Nancy Epulef, from the town of Malalche in the district of Cholchol, knows how to make Mapuche cacique blankets. Each of them requires about a month of work, and she is literally the only woman in Chile who still knows the trade. The artisan assures us that she is teaching her daughter the technique so that this art will not die out once she is gone.

Like Nancy, there are many artisans from the southern area of the country who dedicate their lives to preserving the traditions, trades and ancestral techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. The goal of marketing their products on a larger scale is one of the missions of Primeros Pueblos [First Peoples], a space that was launched this Wednesday in Casacostanera. It offers the original creations of 18 entrepreneurs from different locations in the Biobío and Araucanía regions. “As a Mapuche woman I am very proud to be here,” said Nancy, visibly moved.

Blankets, rugs, jams, jewelry, handbags, lamps, and items made out of clay or wood are some of the products available in the new space.

The store’s inauguration was carried out by CMPC and Consorcio. More than 150 people came and learned first-hand about the story behind each of the creators of the products displayed at the new store. The participants included Vitacura Mayor Camila Merino, CMPC Chairman Luis Felipe Gazitúa, CMPC CEO Francisco Ruiz-Tagle, part of the executive staff of Consorcio led by Patricio Parodi along with representatives from the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage.

The store aims to be a single brand that guarantees quality, authenticity and belongingness to the same territory. Most products are original limited editions made by people whose stories can be found on each label.

This is the case for Luis Vásquez, who learned how to prepare honey at a young age. Today he sells this product at Primeros Pueblos. “I’ve been working with honey all my life, I learned from my grandfather when I was seven. Being here is a dream come true. I never thought it would happen,” he said. Vasquez has different flavors of honey available. The one he is selling right now in Primeros Pueblos is from radal, a shrub that grows in the foothills. “The product has a very rich taste and a lovely color,” he said.

Every item at Primeros Pueblos comes from a creator with a story marked by being in harmony with the environment. This new space also follows the rules of fair trade, thus supporting small producers through an ethical, supportive and equitable system that helps businesses be self-sufficient thanks to supportive transactional foundations that help them stand alongside large industrial producers.

Ana Paula Navarro Huenchuleo is another of the Primeros Pueblos entrepreneurs. Her brand is Piuke Malen, and she works with a loom, leather and ñocha (a plant used in handicrafts). Her creations have even reached countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and more. “My idea is to bring innovation into the products without losing the original technique of each process. I started my project 10 years ago in Cañete, and I’ve exhibited my work in Temuco and Concepción with themes such as the reassertion of the ñocha, in an attempt to recover one tradition of the Mapuche culture.

All of it is 100% handmade and everything is different. Out of the years I’ve been doing this work, I’ve never repeated anything,” she said.

Some of the woven works on offer are part of the Kuifi Kimün initiative, a project that promotes this trade and values the work of women who engage in this art. It was possible to find these products directly, online or at the Fibra Local space in Temuco, where hundreds of articles from entrepreneurs and creators in the area are on display and for sale. Now that this new store is open, people can purchase these products in Santiago as well.

CMPC Chairman Luis Felipe Gazitúa said that Primeros Pueblos is a project the company has wanted to launch for some time now. “We have been supporting entrepreneurs and artisans for years, so we’re aware of the anxiety and the difficulty they’ve experienced when trying to sell their products in the market. They end up selling creations that have a great degree of love, dedication, and culture invested into them at too low of a price, which obviously discourages people from pursuing this type of activity. The store is going to put a tremendous challenge before them, because I’m sure it’s going to be a huge sales success,” Gazitúa said.

Primeros Pueblos is located on the ground floor of Casacostanera, (Av. Nueva Costanera 3900, Vitacura) and will operate seven days a week from 10:00 AM and 8:30 PM.