Home > South America > Peru > The story of Sarah, a Swiss expat in Peru

When her husband started travelling due to his work, Sarah remained in Switzerland to continue her work and her settled life. She often visited her husband, sometimes even finding herself in dangerous situations, such as the time she got stuck in Burundi at the beginning of the Rwandan genocide and could not be evacuated. However, a long-distance relationship is certainly not ideal for a couple, and the moment came when Sarah had to make a choice: either to stay in Switzerland or to throw herself into the adventure of expatriation with her husband. She chose the second option, a decision that has made her happy and satisfied. In this article she tells us about the various phases of her experience, focusing on the fact that expatriation has given her the opportunity to free her creative impulses!

I am a Swiss expat in Peru. I belong to the army of wives that have “left everything behind” in order to follow their husbands in their work abroad. It took me a long time before I could make such a decision. I had a job that I loved, and a satisfying working position’ .

Sarah is a librarian, and before leaving Switzerland she was working full-time in her chosen field. The decision to quit everything was not easy: “Every professional career has its key moments, and if you miss them, your professional experience is not complete. I was right at one of those key moments, so the idea of leaving simply did not figure in my plans. And I very much disliked the idea of losing my financial independence. Luckily, I have a patient and understanding husband who was able to wait until I completed a part of my personal path where I felt ready to take the possibility of expatriation into consideration‘, Sarah tells us.

swiss expat in peru

Sarah’s bags with an orange Cusco hat

One day her husband came back from work with the proposal to move to Perù. It was not easy for Sarah to make up her mind, but once she finally took the decision, she launched herself into this adventure with a positive disposition and an open mind in order to experience the changes in her life in a profound and meaningful way.

At the beginning, Sarah looked for contacts to work as a volunteer in her professional domain, “but after two month and a lucky encounter, I was able to realize a lifelong dream: dedicating myself to couture. I entered a school “Diseño de moda”, and have been really happy since then. I had taken my sewing machine with me to Peru, so I organized a space at home and started creating my own brand! My products are the result of what I have learned at the school. I organize “expo-sales” to sell them, or I take them to fairs and markets. Some shops in town have even agreed to sell them!

Sarah4 swiss expat in peruActually Sarah has always had a passion for tailoring. In Switzerland, despite working in another field altogether, she always created clothes and bags. In Lima she was lucky enough to meet a woman who attends a very professional fashion design school. Sarah participated in some of its courses, and set up an atelier at her place.

She mainly specializes in producing bags, especially purses she creates using typical hats from the region of Cusco: they are very unusual and highly sought after. Expatriates, who count for a large part of her customers, started talking about her products and participated more and more in the expo-sales that Sarah organizes from time to time.

Being the wife of a diplomat, she cannot start her own business in Perù, so Sarah did not have to go through all the hassle usually associated with setting up such an activity. Nonetheless she devotes herself with passion and dedication to her creations. Under her brand she also designs T-shirts, shoes, shawls…

It is not easy to be one’s own boss, and Sarah is learning this fast in her “new” profession. One has to know when one can go to the cinema or when to stay and finish the products that have been ordered. Sarah seems to be able to manage all this very well. The only thing that really worries her is when a machine breaks down. A broken machine means having to stop the creative process. Worse, is that you cannot always count on technicians who promise they will come and repair it the same day…

swiss expat in peru

Sara’s workshop

swiss expat in peruLuckily it seems that the problems affect neither Sarah’s creativity nor her production. She has just completed a new model of bags and is currently preparing her next expo-sale set for the end of April. I’ll certainly go and have a look, that’s a promise!


Interview by Claudiaexpat
March 2005
Translation by Kirstenexpat

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