Giannina Villarán Bettis
In 1985, I stopped studying art at the Pontific Catholic University of Peru because I had to migrate fleeing the violence in my country perpetuated by ‘Sendero Luminoso’. That same year I arrived in the state of Georgia. I remember that when I arrived it was hard for me to let go of some Hispanic customs in order to integrate to this new country. I lived in south Atlanta. There were few Latinos; I think myself and a couple were the only ones.
In the United States, I began my studies at Mercer University and in 1989 I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and a specialization in accounting. Six years later, I met my husband and we have been together ever since. In April 1998 we decided to get married. I lived for 15 years in Forsyth, close to Macon, but when my children grew up, I decided to move to Atlanta.
After my studies in Mercer University, I continued studying in Atlanta College of Arts and in New York Institute of Art and Design. I worked for more than 20 years in a company, until I made the decision to begin my own project about something I have always been passioned about: accessory design. I started my own project that I named “Peruvian Stamp” where I design purses, bags and wallets using Peruvian materials. I even have two girls in Peru that help me sew! It’s an only women group and I feel I help them to start their paths.
I try to visit Peru at least 3 or 4 times a year. When I do, I enroll in different design and confection classes. What I miss the most about my country is the food and the evenings having tea with my friends.
I feel very happy to represent Peru through my purses and expressing the Peruvian art and culture in my designs. In Atlanta, I already have two boutiques! My dream is to keep pushing forward with my business and get to other cities in the United States in order to make more people carry “Peruvianess” with them.