There is a new store in town. Located in Simsmore Square, Inka Arts, which opened May 21, is co-owner and president Mercedes Esposito's effort at having a shop where she can showcase jewelry and handicrafts from her native country, Peru.
Esposito, who owns the store with her husband Scott Esposito, has found that people in the Canton area like and accept her merchandise because she has successfully sold goods online at her website www.inkaartsllc.com and at craft shows for two years.
“My products are eco-friendly and are made from organic materials. For example we have nuts from the jungle in Peru that are being used as jewelry for bracelets,” she said.
Esposito said the couple didn't know much about the area and are testing the market.
“It wasn’t a strategic plan [to come to Simsbury]. We wanted to [give] it a try. We came here because God brought us here,” she said.
While unsure if Simsbury will be interested in South American crafts, Esposito is sure that she enjoys the giving back aspect of her business. Ten percent of the gross sales at Inka Arts will go towards Esperantra, an organization in Peru that helps poor people cope with cancer.
“It is fulfilling for me because I am helping Esperantra. The people live in the highlands and don’t have money for transportation to cities to get treatments for cancer. This will help them,” she said.
The business itself seems to help others as well. According to Esposito, mothers who are helping to feed their children crochet handbags along with her sister and then send them to the store. Some of the bags are crafted to resemble carvings in the Peruvian landscape called the Nazca Lines. These carvings can be seen by air over Peru.
“The crochet is done by my sister, Delia Zarate, and other women in Lima, Peru, who help in their spare time,” she said.
Inka Arts sells Peruvian Andean turquoise (which is more greenish than typical American turquoise), handmade children’s sweaters, crocheted handbags, .950 Peruvian silver jewelry and .925 sterling silver jewelry among other items. In particular, the children’s sweaters are hand knit with South American animals on them, Incan calendar symbols, or the princess and the frog.
Other unique items for sale are pendants with real Amazon butterflies’ wings in them.
“They live a normal life and are found in the forest. Artisans collect them and preserve them as jewelry,” explained Esposito. “I really want to help Peruvians to bring their crafts to the U.S.”
In the future, Inka Arts may carry more American crafts that are handmade as well. The prices for gifts range from $9 to $100.