Some of the most well known and successful companies and organizations started because one person was brave enough to take their dream and make it into a tangible reality. We spoke with Nubia Echevarria, founder of The Monkey Project, to learn how she hopes these cute critters will make a difference for a small town in Peru.
4word: Tell us about The Monkey Project and its mission.
Nubia: The Monkey Project is a social enterprise which specializes in making sock monkeys for children. We hire talented Peruvian artisans to hand-crochet each of our lovable sock monkeys, and so far we have released 3 sock monkeys: Otis the Love Monkey, Penelope the Friend Monkey, and Einstein the Education Monkey. Olive the Peace Monkey is our next monkey to be released. We are currently looking for a children’s book publishing deal to tell the story of each our sock monkeys. Our vision is to give a percentage of book sales to partnering charities. Ultimately, our mission is to educate the younger generation on philanthropic and social issues by way of our sock monkeys and children’s book.
4word: There is a potential move to a new city in The Monkey Project’s future. How will this affect the organization?
Nubia: Currently, our artisans work from their homes in a small town in the Andes Mountains of Peru called Huancayo. We’re hoping to move our production closer to Lima because of time and transportation costs. A current option is to move our production to a small village outside of Lima called Comas. We are working with a potential investor who is developing a program and facility (with the support of Hope International and the local church) to help the women of Comas to find sustainable training and employment.
We currently have a group of students from Vanderbilt Owen Business school doing research on moving our production from Huancayo to Comas. The students will be traveling to Peru during their spring break in March with our potential investor to research the pros and cons of moving our production. Ultimately, the move will help us scale our production so we can fulfill large orders in a shorter period of time, but most importantly, we’d like to create a collaborative and sustainable working environment for our women.
4word: You worked for a few years in the publishing industry before transitioning to a freelance career. What was your reasoning for this shift?
Nubia: Although I really enjoyed working in the publishing world for several years, the full-time schedule kept me from growing The Monkey Project. My margin and free time was very limited. I realized in order to grow TMP to the next level, I would need a more flexible schedule so I decided to freelance. It’s been a great decision, because it’s allowed me freedom to network and schedule meetings, conferences, and travel throughout the week.
4word: Will you go into a full-time position with The Monkey Project? Is that a scary step to think about?
Nubia: Yes, I hope to get to a place where I can fully commit my career to The Monkey Project full-time and no, it’s not scary – I’m actually really looking forward to that day! In general, going full-time with TMP would likely affect my professional life more than my daily life. The workload would be more demanding than my current freelance work, because I would be running a full-blown business, but I believe it would be way more rewarding and satisfying because I’m doing something I love and believe in.
4word: What advice would you offer to someone thinking about making a career transition?
Nubia: I would encourage them to make and schedule the time to follow their dream – even if that time is limited. Gradually, the transition will happen on its own, when the time is right.
4word: How can 4word readers help support The Monkey Project?
Nubia: Following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and helping us spread our mission via social media channels would be the greatest support. In order to hire more women in Peru, we need to create demand for our dolls. And to create more demand, we need to focus our efforts on building a loyal customer base and brand awareness. So help us create a movement by spreading the word about The Monkey Project!
Nubia’s story shows how one can turn a passion into a functioning cause. It just takes time, discipline, and trust. Do you have any ideas or interests you’d like to see become more of a full-time job? Be brave and step out in faith. You just might be the next Monkey Project!
Please click here to receive these impactful blogs automatically to your inbox.
Nubia Echevarria moved to Nashville in 2008 after living in Peru for a year. She moved to Peru from her hometown of Pensacola, Florida, after the sudden loss of her father. Both of her parents are originally from Peru, and the desire to be close to her extended family after losing her father was strong.
While living in Peru, Nubia spent a year in the Andes Mountains in a small town called Huancayo. Living in this town, known as “the artisan capital of Peru,” she realized how much talent the natives possessed, but their opportunities for a better life weren’t easy to find. This is where the idea of The Monkey Project began.
When Nubia moved to Nashville, she initially worked in music publishing and then transferred to book publishing. While working in the publishing world, Nubia was also building her passion project, The Monkey Project, during her free time.