Hola, Welcome to Tantakuna!
Tantakuna is the brain-child of our owner, Nicole Saavedra. "Tantakuna" means "let's get together" in Quechua, one of the native languages spoken in Bolivia. We strive to bridge cultural divides and bring individuals together from all over the world, and "tantakuna" reflects this philosophy. Our goal is to provide our customers with unique items to spark conversation, and therefore connection, with others. We are enormously proud of the products we offer, and would like our customers to feel the same. Tantakuna is about stepping away from the distractions of daily life, whether it's social media or lingering work anxieties, and come together to form human connections. We live in an age where we can interact with people from across the world, yet we are distant from those sitting next to us. Our company would like to change that by inspiring you to engage with others on a personal as well as a global scale.
Tantakuna is also about empowerment. Most of our products are handmade by different indigenous groups from around the world as well as small businesses here in the United States. Many of our items are crafted using techniques passed down in their cultures from generation to generation, some taking a lifetime to master. We strive to give our partners as well as our customers a voice and a chance to impact the lives of people from different cultures. You will notice tags on our handmade items that showcase its group of origin as well as the name of the artist or craftsman. We support the use of ethical work practices as well as involvement to teach communities near and far how to live their best lives.
Scroll down to learn more about our team and partnerships.
Nicole Saavedra: Owner/Operator
Nicole started Tantakuna in 2018 while traveling to Bolivia to visit her family, where the idea came to fruition during the wedding of a childhood friend. After speaking with one of the leaders of Proyecto Horizonte, Nicole decided that it was time to be a part of something bigger than herself.
Nicole was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia into a family from all around the world (literally). She then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, attended Auburn University in Alabama (War Eagle!) and now resides in Columbus, Ohio. Throughout her life, she has enjoyed traveling and experiencing new cultures with her original partners in crime: her father, "Billyta" and her grandmother, "Vovo." This is where she gained a love for textiles, artifacts and world history and why she chose to major in Apparel Merchandising and Production Management. She still enjoys traveling as well as obsessing over textiles, essential oils, natural remedies, and natural fabric dyes. She is currently enjoying her time creating her indoor wild garden and playing with her puppy, Charli. Her goal is to use her travel experiences and education to aid in bringing communities together, locally and globally.
Bill "Billyta" Saavedra: Cultural Liaison and Head Buyer in Bolivia
Bill was "voluntold" into Tantakuna by Nicole. He grew up speaking Quechua and assimilates well into different cultures due to his experience as an environmental consultant around the world.
Bill was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He studied Agriculture at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He has traveled and lived in numerous countries such as Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Chad. He has taught Nicole everything she knows about traveling and opening her mind to different customs, foods, and cultures. He is a large advocate of living a sustainable life. Bill is currently retired from environmental consulting and spends his days working on the family farm where he grew up. If you have any questions about agriculture, yogurts, cheese, wood, or need someone to translate for you, he's the person to contact!
Proyecto Horizonte's mission statement is to "support vulnerable communities that are seeking development and progress through integral services in health, education and community development that are planned and executed by a multidisciplinary team." The group is currently working to aid a community in recession, where the mining industry once provided employment but has since left the area. They support all levels of the community in Cochabamba, Bolivia, including the economic independence of the women who live there through the production of artisan textile crafts.
Chiquitano Threads is a group of women in the Chiquitania area of Bolivia, also known as Santa Cruz de la Sierra. They dye all of the threads used in their weaving with natural, plant-based dyes derived from local fruits and leaves. Through this industry, these women are working toward financial independence.
My Soaps is a family-owned business based in Johnstown, Ohio, where they craft all of their soaps by hand. All of their products are free from chemicals that cause damage to the skin.
Skylar's Woodshop is a family-owned woodworking business based out of South Carolina, which produces a variety products including ladders, shelves, and personalized wooden signs.