The Company that Employs Villages in Peru

“Remember when my house used to be made out of mud when you met me? And now it’s made out of brick because of you,” — this is a message that Sandra Manay, the founder of the wellness & home decor company Luna Sundara, recently received from her employee Luis Sandoval from Peru.

Luis Sandoval is a ceramics artisan from Chulucanas, a town in northern Peru. Sandoval handmakes exquisite pottery for Luna Sundara. When large orders are placed, the artisans in a community work together, empowering each other and improving the economy in their town. 

Sandra Manay doesn’t send middle-men to negotiate with employees in Peru. She values the human connection and travels to Peru herself, a few times a year, to meet with the communities. Usually each town is popular for a different craft. For instance, Chulucanas is famous for its pottery. Sandra not only visits the town, but also the homes of the artists’ to better understand their roots and lifestyle and find the best way to work together. 

Luna Sundara employs a few communities in Peru, for each product they sell. For example, they employ a community to harvest the magical Palo Santo wood;the artisans for home decor products and work separately with a biologist on the wildcrafted essential oils.

“Our goal is to empower artisans, farmers, biologists and others by providing a source of income that not only benefits one household, but a whole community. Seeing them improve their lifestyle with their own efforts is the best gift we can give,” Sandra Manay says.

Luna Sundara was founded in New York City in 2015 by a native Peruvian Sandra Manay and her boyfriend Thomas Konik. Manay was born in the coastal area of Peru and at a young age was influenced by local traditional art and natural beauty. At the age of 15, she moved to the U.S. with her family, and later graduated from Parsons School of Design in NYC. During the spring of 2014, she started attending spiritual events, full moon parties, summer equinox among others, and noticed a lot of people using aromatherapy. There were certain aromas that she couldn’t find in the U.S that were popular in Peru. She got an idea to create an aromatherapy company and that was the beginning of Luna Sundara.

Palo Santo wood and essential oil are one of the most popular products of Luna Sundara. Palo Santo is a mystical tree that grows on the coast of South America.In Spanish, the name literally means “holly wood.” It has therapeutic properties, such as the ability to uplift mood and keep energies grounded and clear for meditation. 

“During the hot summer months of my childhood, I would use Palo Santo to smudge and as a mosquito repellent. Now it is being used by the whole world, and it gives me so much joy to share it with all of you,” Sandra says.

 You can find more information about Luna Sundara’s products by visiting their website

Demi Vitkute

Demi Vitkute is a Lithuania-born, America-educated, New York-based journalist, Columbia Journalism grad, fashion editor and co-founder of The Urban Watch Magazine.

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