Rumi Sumaq is the company of Coco Paniora Salinas and his wife Melanie Vento.
Coco was born in the Apurimac region of Peru, an area known for its beautiful mountain landscapes and rich Quechua and Incan history. It is here where Coco developed his deep appreciation for Peru’s natural world and rich cultural history. Inspired by his land and Quechua ancestry, Coco travelled throughout Peru and South America in pursuit of his artistry. The stunning landscapes, Incan ruins and beautiful people he came to know are the source of his passion, creativity and motivation to express himself in all art forms. From the high Andes mountains to the dense jungle rainforest to the desert coast, Coco is greatly moved by all manifestations of Pachamama, the Mother Earth. He pays homage to her and his homeland by using Peruvian stones, seeds, shells, fossilized bones and teeth, and other natural materials in his jewelry designs.
Coco has been an artist for nine years but has been surrounded by art his entire life. Growing up, he watched his mother and grandparents weave beautiful textiles. From them Coco learned patience and attention to detail, skills which are essential in creating his meticulous handwoven designs. Coco did not receive any formal training in jewelry design. Instead he learned metal working and macramé techniques from other South American artisans he met while traveling. For the most part, however, he is self taught.
Melanie was born in New Jersey, but has always had a feeling of wanderlust and quest for adventure. She was a wilderness instructor for Outward Bound before she decided to turn her love of travel and interest in other cultures into a career by pursuing a PhD in medical anthropology. Her graduate research is on the health effects of rapid social and economic change among the Tsimané of the Bolivian Amazon. Melanie met Coco in Peru while taking a break from her research project, and it was love at first sight. She not only fell in love with Coco, but with his beautiful country as well. Fate intervened when political tensions between Bolivia and the US escalated and Melanie was forced to wait out the Bolivian political unrest in Peru . Unable to return to Bolivia, Melanie stayed in Peru to spend more time with Coco and to begin writing her dissertation.
Together the pair moved to Cusco, where Coco opened a jewelry store with his brother in San Blas, the art district of the city. Melanie and Coco married in Cusco in 2009 and moved to the United States the following year. They started their business, Rumi Sumaq, in the summer of 2010 and immediately began traveling the art show circuit. Soon after, they welcomed the birth of their son Mayu, whose name means “river” in Quechua. When not on the road, Coco creates new designs from their home studio in Collingswood, New Jersey and Melanie handles the business side of Rumi Sumaq while chipping away at her dissertation. Mayu is happy as can be to have both parents with him at all times.