Byron Bay NSW
Her beauty is real and magnetic. The kind that puts you simultaneously at ease and in awe. Her charming Argentinean accent accentuates her calming presence; and from a moments interaction, you can sense a true kindness and curiosity that leaves you captivated and wanting to learn more. Here’s what we uncovered about Victoria ‘Vicky' Aguirre - the ever-interesting and deeply creative soul behind Pampa.
Where are you from, and how did you end up at the helm of Pampa?
I grew up in Buenos Aries, which is the capital city of Argentina; but also on my grandparent’s beautiful farm, in an area called Pampa. So, I kind of have the best of both worlds – a connection with the city, and with nature.
Finding myself to be where I am now, is a journey in itself. I had come out of a very long relationship, and moved to New York to find myself, and heal myself there. I studied photography and worked there for a while, and as soon as I got back, I was sorted, completely ready for the next adventure.
I was working as a freelance journalist at the time, and was invited by Adventure Magazine to go and cover the trip of two Argentinean boys who were surfing the Pacific Coast of Latin America for a whole year. They were also making a film about it, and my job was to cover the Chilean leg of their trip. I arrived to meet them in the desert, where they were camping remotely, and they told me that they had this mate, an Australian guy, who was doing the same journey as them, so they were all travelling together. That’s how I met Carl.
We fell in love and decided to travel together across Argentina and to Brazil. Carl had been travelling for a year, and was offered a job back on the Gold Coast where he used to live, and he asked if I wanted to go with him. I didn’t know anything about Australia – I hadn’t even heard of Melbourne before! But, I said okay.
I have been in Australia for six years now, and at first it was a nightmare. I became unwell with homesickness and inner conflict. I knew I couldn’t return to Argentina, because then I would be without my love; and so that is how Pampa was born – out of that nostalgic sadness and desperation to connect back with my home.
Out of my homesickness came the desire to bring together, and join our cultures, in order for things to work out for both of us. And that is why Pampa was born so strongly, and why it has so much heart.
In your own words, please tell us what you do…
We are two photographers who love exploring and being in nature. During our travels through remote Argentina, we found amazing weavers, who craft rugs, cushions and throws for us. So basically, we do ethical homewares (we work under fair trade practices) and we have a direct connection with our artisans, they are like our family – there is no middle man.
We also sell our fine art photographic prints, and a new collection of found objects such as bags, baskets, books and incense from our concept space showroom in Byron Bay.
What are three things that are inspiring you right now?
Well, my dog Poncho inspires me – his animalistic simplicity. He’s so happy with just love and food and sleep, you know. We are the opposite; we want so much more! So that is definitely a point of inspiration for me, his simplicity.
Our weavers inspire me, one hundred percent. They have it tough living in remote Argentina, in this world that we have. Their everyday lives and how hard they work just to support their families and to adapted into the modern world, is very, very, humbling.
Carl inspires me. His background is in trade work, in air-conditioning. He didn’t grow up in a creative environment like I did. He has changed his whole life since I’ve known him, and he has thrived through the process. His transformation and ability to adapt and grow continues to inspire me.
What is it about the art of weaving that you love most?
I believe that energy travels through things that are made with the hands, the energy of the person doing it. So, I believe that energy stays with the product when it goes to a new home, and I think that is magical. And knowing there is no machine involved in any step of the process, only the hands. Whether the person is suffering or happy, or whatever the scenario – in that moment, there is a connection with the object and that person.
"I believe that energy travels through things that are made with the hands, the energy of the person doing it. So, I believe that energy stays with the product when it goes to a new home, and I think that is magical. And knowing there is no machine involved in any step of the process, only the hands. Whether the person is suffering or happy, or whatever the scenario – in that moment, there is a connection with the object and that person."
What does beauty look like to you?
Beauty… hmmm, I think someone is beautiful if they are connected to themselves. If they can walk securely and easily in this world. I don’t think beauty relates to what we look like, it’s someone who wakes up every morning and does what he loves and thrives. Someone who goes to bed in the evening and thinks ‘this day was worth it’. That is beauty to me. Beauty is passion.
Do you have a morning ritual?
Yes. When everything goes to plan, it is my routine to wake up around 6am and take my dog Poncho for a walk on the beach, or at Bangalow Showgrounds near where I live. Swimming in the morning is one of the best things I can do, and I much prefer to do it in the morning than the afternoon. Also, I like to have a coffee.
What are you most looking forward to this Summer in Australia?
Spending a lot of time at the beach! I love Byron’s beaches, I adore them. A good day at White’s Beach – that’s amazing (with some prawns and beers). A good surfing session at The Pass too, if it’s good waves I can go there with my longboard. And the sunsets.
What is your favourite travel destination, and why?
Argentina, because I love it the most. Thank goodness for Pampa, because it enables us to travel to remote places. We love the desert, even though we live in the opposite environment, we do love it. We just came from a trip to Joshua Tree, which we completely adored.
What does your ideal Sunday entail?
Having the house clean – Sunday is my day for doing this! Burning my Pala Santos stick, and after a beach session I will come back and cook something nice for dinner and just relax on the deck. That is an ideal Sunday.
Who are you listening to right now?
We listen to a lot of music in the store. One of the guys I love the most is called Gustavo Santaolalla, he’s really good, especially one of his albums called Ronco. He’s an Argentinean guitarist – just a bit of singing, but mostly just music. It’s really nice.
Tell us about the Pampa Horse Series…
My Horse Series was actually born before the brand. I have been taking photos of them for over ten years now, on the farm where I grew up. That’s where they are from. They are my family’s, and I always photograph the same ones.
The series expresses my personal connection to them. I feel that I speak to horses, and I think they answer me back… there is something else to it though, you know, something special.
When it came time to launch the brand, it seemed obvious to include the prints because we are photographers by nature – it is our art. It felt natural to incorporate this series because it made perfect sense, but mainly because I am so proud of them. Because of the connection to my heritage. I am very strongly attached to that.
What is happiness to you?
Happiness to me is going to bed content with what I am doing and knowing that I gave it my all. I am very passionate with everything I do, maybe because I am Latin. But if I don’t have a passionate day – with good things or bad things - then that is no good for me.
I also think happiness comes in finding balance in your life, and that is something I am working on. I cannot hide the fact that having your own business adds a lot of stress to your life, and that it is hard to control. But going back to my yoga and surfing – finding ways to make it work, gives me that balance. And it is a challenge… but it’s worth it, and that makes me happy.
Photography by Lisa Sorgini | @lisa.sorgini
Words by Ellen Watts | @_theatelier_