After travelling two months in Guatemala, I have been appreciating the ancestral art of wonderful weavers and I was surprised to discover so many organizations where hundreds of women were working together. The textile tradition of this country is really important and behind each symbol on the clothing you will discover an incredible Mayan meaning. I was so fascinated by all the colorful textiles with thousands stories to tell… that I wanted to share with you my favorite brands which promote the know-how of Guatemala. All of these brands exchange with me by email and replied kindly and with transparency to all of my questions about their stories, values and work.
This cooperative works with around 400 weavers since more than 30 years created after the terrible Civil War of Guatemala. Based in Quetzaltenango, the founder is a weaver from the village of San martin, called Amparo. She wanted to create a place where the women could work and help each other to support their families financially. The cooperative gives a fair wage to the weavers so they don’t have to sell their products to a low price to a middleman. Thus, when you buy a product from Trama Textile, the cooperative just keep a 25% of the selling price to manage administrative or marketing finances, the rest going directly to the weaver. Helped by Oralia, her friend, Amparo manage the cooperative and one women of each community is here to facilitate the communication. Working with 5 different regions from Guatemala, Trama Textiles offers a great variety of products with different symbols as every village has their own know-how. So, you can find accessories and homeware but what I love the most in this brand are the beautiful colorful pillows. Also read my amazing experience as a volunteer for them:http://cottonandtravel.com/en/being-a-volunteer-for-trama-textiles-a-weaving-cooperative-in-guatemala/
Ethical Fashion Guatemala
Created by the couple Jenny & Maykol, the brand is now based in U.S. Maykol is from Guatemala but pursue his studies in U.S. “Now my desire is to give back to my country, by helping my people by providing opportunities for them to grow and achieve their dreams as once I had other people supporting me to achieve mine. I want to be a voice of change by bringing their talents here and creating the opportunities there.” Wola means “heart” in Mayan language and works with 14 groups of artisans but also independant designers. I particularly love the jewelleries of their designers that we can’t find in other brands! The brand also helps 14 children for buying all the educational materials they need. 8 are from a recognized organization and 6 are children coming from families that the brand directly knows. My wola also wants to expand the project on the health level. https://mywola.com/
Based in the village of Pastores Sacatepequez, this brand realises beautiful trendy leather bags mixed with colorful traditional textiles from Guatemala. The brand works with 5 craftwomen manufacturing the bags and is provided with textiles by Marta, an indigenous woman who works with several communities to create the most beautiful colorful textiles you can find on the leather bag. Guatemalan Bags was created by Telma Castro who manage all the administrative, marketing and sales strategies. She can also count on Lalo Ceri, 50 years of experience in design and manufacturing. https://guatemalanbags.com/
Because of its amazing heritage, Guatemalan artisans need to face copyright of their products and it has been discovered only on Etsy website more than 64.000 fake products. You have to be really careful now when you buy a product from Guatemala has a lot of brands took advantage of this unique art and the poor ressources the artisans have to commercialize their products. They will be cost an arm and a leg but the brand will not give an appropriate percentage to the maker.
“What happens normally, and it’s happened to me, [is] people come here and ask for samples and [then they create their own products], but now they use chemical dyes and industrialized thread. And they say it’s handmade and made by us, but normally what they do is take the samples as an example, and later they produce large quantities, but with low-quality thread. That’s what has affected us most.”” tells Delfina Par, a member of Casa Flor Ixcaco.
So, don’t hesitate to ask the brand about their working conditions and transparency policies.
Here are two really interesting articles you could read to know more about that Ethical Fashion Guatemala shared kindly with me.