I work for Annie Hurlbut. She’s my boss. Actually, I work for Peruvian Connection in the new Peruvian Connection NYC store, but really, it’s the same thing. I’m sure many of you know Annie and Peruvian Connection—like me and so many women our age who discover the store, having shopped PC for years, and swoosh in with an
“Oh! I’m so glad you’re here, I’ve shopped your catalog for years!”
I often show up for my shift swooshing in and repeating the same line to my younger colleagues, just for the fun of it. (They used to be amused.)
So what’s it like working for a company that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary this year?
Forty years of experience in the catalog business and fashion industry is no small feat. Annie knows her stuff, and not only that: she still loves her stuff. When Annie talks about the designs, craftsmanship, fibers, and manufacturing processes of her apparel, she does so as a connoisseur. She passes her experience down to her entire staff, expecting us all to know as much as we can about the same things.
I’ve been told by a very good source that after she receives the samples for a collection, Annie sequesters herself in a special room of her house to try on and scrutinize each piece. During our recent in-store product review, I watched as Annie sat on the floor meticulously refolding PC apparel and placing it into a huge suitcase for transport to the next store. We had been briefed about every piece in the new collection; we’d handled, we’d tried on, we’d asked questions. We were doing what Annie does.
What’s it like working for a woman-owned business that has stayed true to its original mission and style?
When you walk into the new Peruvian Connection store on Manhattan’s Upper West side, you kind of walk into the catalog. Things seem familiar. You also kind of walk into Annie’s home. Annie travels a lot, and in her travels she picks up (if you can call buying a heavy three-way mirror in San Francisco “picking up”) the things that make each of her 7 stores an extension of her personal aesthetic.
While you may never have dinner at Annie’s house, you’ll leave our store with a sense of what that might be like. It’s the kind of authentic feeling many retail stores aspire to, but most fail to achieve.
What’s it like being swaddled in alpaca and pima cotton?
Are you kidding? Alpaca is lofty, light, and warm. Pima cotton is soft soft soft, a very high-quality cotton. I wear this stuff while observing the deep appreciation, if not craze, for it among our customers. Approximately 80-85% of the apparel in a PC store is made of alpaca and pima, and the stores pretty much mirror the catalog. There are even hand-crocheted pieces fit for a queen. All of it shares the quality and consistency that Annie has held to since the beginning.
As many of you may know, it all started after Annie, an anthropology student at Yale, traveled to Peru. There, she discovered and fell in love with traditional Peruvian textiles and the artisans who made them. Annie brought a Peruvian sweater home for her mother’s birthday. Biddy Hurlbut loved it, one thing lead to another, and the two started a catalog business. One thing lead to another, and forty years later, I’m working in their seventh store.
I’ve been seeing a lot more alpaca and pima cotton being used in quality apparel these days, and I’m not surprised. With the increasing interest in quality things that last, both of these traditional Peruvian fibers were bound to be rediscovered. But I’m not sure anyone’s doing it like we do at Peruvian Connection.
I’m very happy to be working in an environment where longevity, quality, fair trade, and real service are taken seriously. Peruvian Connection is about
“Moving forward, honoring the past.”
Whether you’ve shopped at Peruvian Connection for years, or just heard of it from me, you can see our current collection here. Or if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by our store; come sit on our sumptuous, persimmon-colored velvet couch and let me offer you a Pellegrino and some wonderful clothing to try on…