There’s a new girl in town, and she’s taking the T’anta Wasi Bakery in Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley into her own hands. Meet Katerina Caballero, a motivated and inspiring woman who, together with LAFF, is transforming a new local bakery into a catalyst to help the young girls at Sacred Valley Project with funding for their education. Sacred Valley Project supports young girls from rural areas to receive an education where under their given circumstances it would be extremely difficult. We had the opportunity for a Q and A session with Katerina to learn more about her, as well as her plans and aspirations for the future of the bakery and Sacred Valley Project.
Q. What is your role at the T’anta Wasi bakery?
A. As the Administrator I will oversee sales, finance, management and the business development of T’anta Wasi. My role is to make sure T’anta Wasi run smoothly and sustainably with future growth and development in mind. Also, developing a platform for the girls at The Sacred Valley Project to learn a little about how to start and run their own businesses is one of the goals of administration. This will empower the young women by giving them the tools and the confidence to learn basic administrative responsibilities of running a business.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where are you from and why did you decide to come and work here in Sacred Valley?
A. I was born in Denver, CO. My parents both immigrated to the states from Peru and Panama. I studied Environmental Design with an emphasis in Architecture at the University of Boulder in Colorado and I have been working in the fields of architectural and structural drafting, designing, and project management since my first internship at age nineteen. After graduating University, I spent some time as a project manager and freelance designer. Throughout the years, I took half of my time to travel. I was able to get to know 13 countries throughout Europe, Scandinavia and South America couch surfing, back packing and adventuring all around. Naturally, I fell in love with Peru. I have a lot of family here and the number of places to see are infinitely beautiful. Peru never ceases to amaze me. Thus, I decided to pursue the paperwork for citizenship. I had been living, working remotely, and volunteering in Lima for 6 months waiting on paper work to be processed when my cousin, Nicole, had informed me of the position opening for The Sacred Valley Project. I had heard a lot of the project through Nicole’s stories and experiences living and working in the dorms with the girls and I was excited to learn more. Within a month of talking with her and Alex, I had submitted my final paper work for citizenship to immigrations and made my way down here to Ollantaytambo.
Q. How do you plan on making the bakery stand out from the rest? What makes it special?
A. Through my experiences of design it is important to me that the bakery has a strong aesthetic, story and product and that these aspects coincide with one another. We did a little renovation that has already made a world of a difference by bringing a unique but still cozy rural feel to the bakery. We also wanted to open the space up for it to also be used as a café, which doesn’t exist in Ollantaytambo. In my travels to the Sacred Valley Project in Calca I encountered a man that grows his own coffee, roasts it and would transport at a reasonable price, keeping the bakery/cafe local and affordable. We have also hired a great baker that not only has experience with bread and cakes but also will be making pizzas for the cafe, both take home and in house personal pizzas. As for the story, T’anta Wasi will stand in support of the girls at the Sacred Valley Project and help empower and tell their stories of the importance of education in the valley, especially for young women. We want T’anta Wasi to be a community bakery-cafe that caters to diverse groups of clients!
Q. What do you hope to gain from the bakery for Sacred Valley Project? What is the trajectory of the bakery – Any plans for the future?
A. I hope to help build this business up to be the start of something more for the education of the girls of the Sacred Valley Project. My mother has worked in education for 25 years and it has been instilled in me that education is an essential catalyst to growth and change for the betterment of a community as a whole. I am excited for the opportunity to start something that will benefit such a cause. T’anta Wasi’s trajectory will be to be able to help support some of the costs of the girl’s school supplies, costs of living, and transportation. In the future T’anta Wasi will also aspire to become a pilot program that will teach these young women how to administer a business of their own one day. Our goal is to gain enough traction to then become a template for sustainable business design that would support other projects similar to that of The Sacred Valley Project.