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.

 

 

etnicoculture-guatemala-leather-bag-cottonandtravel

Etnico Culture

This brand was created by Judy, born in Northern California to a Californian father and Guatemalan mother.  Later, she will live in Guatemala and will discover all the cultural richness and beauties of her country that her mother wanted to teach her younger. “I wanted to share my culture, roots, ancestry with others to appreciate what hand made, custom made, sustainable products were”. That’s how Etnico Culturo was born. Knowing the persons working behind the product is so important for Judy that she works closely with them: “I wanted to share a story about the hard work that goes into each piece… I thought that this was my opportunity to showcase how intricate and special this textile was.” Etnico Culture works with a master leather maker, with 30 plus years of experience in the field to create high quality leather and trendy bags. And by the way I totally fell in love with all the backpacks they made! Regarding, cosmetic bag, Judy works with a women’s cooperative in San Juan La Laguna, renowned for outstanding weaving techniques and women helping women to achieve a fair wage. The other product such as Huipil & Corte pillow cases were sourced & custom made by a mother/daughter duo in Chichicastenango where they have a shop full of  Huipiles (the traditional top of Guatemalan women).
woven-future-fashion-brand-guatemala-cottonandtravel

Woven Futures

This brand is a family story. It was created one year ago by Hannah and her cousin, both from Guatemala with the aim of ending generational poverty. “We have always loved textiles and the artisan culture but noticed over the years that many artisans, specifically women, lacked resources to market their products or were exploited in their trade. We wanted to begin a company that empowered and employed artisan women to overcome their resources through something that the whole world could be a part of fashion”. They work with over 40 artisans in Guatemala who make handcrafted bags, totes, makeup bags, and women’s accessories, incorporating designs from the community. One unique thing about Woven Futures is that they also give back to artisan communities through microloans so that women can have access to resources and create more products, ultimately giving them a better income.
tramatextiles-cushions-handmade-guatemala-cottonandtravel

Trama Textiles

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/

http://tramatextiles.org/

 

ethical-fashion-guatemala-cottonndtravel

Ethical Fashion Guatemala

The couple James Dillon & Kara Goebel live since many years in Guatemala and run a tourism company. James and Kara have worked closely with the indigenous groups around Atitlán for years and have earned their trust. “The artisans have limited Internet access, they have no website development skills or even the cash to have a website of their own; no Paypal, no credit cards, etc.” Ethical Fashion Guatemala wanted to fill this gap by providing the artisans with a platform of their own to access a global market and receive a fair cut of the final sale price of their products. Ethical Fashion Guatemala takes only a 10% to cover the credit fees, shipping and running the website, meaning that when you buy a product on their webiste, 90% of the price goes directly to the artisan. James & Kara are also fighting against copyright of Guatemalan products to protect maker’s right! Now, they work with 32 groups representing more than 2000 women & men. But Ethical Fashion Guatemala is not only about ethical fashion as it also organizes workshops for organic coffee and chocolate or also cooking & art classes! How cool is that !
mywola-handicraft-guatemala-cottonandtravel

My Wola

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/

 

mayamam-weavers-cooperative-fashion-guatemala-cottonandtravel

Mayamam Weavers

The brand was created by Caryn Maxim after meeting a community from Cajola that had immigrated next to her home in U.S. She began to work with the weavers to help them selling their products in U.S and offering them a fair wage. Mayamam Weavers is a member of the Fair Trade Federation. The craftwomen learn entrepreneurship skills and how to work as team. A woman represents the community to make sure the products are hight quality made. The women create their own designs or can also work with the Artistic Director to invente new designs. Caryn goes to Guatemala two weeks a month to collaborate with the weavers.
guatemalan-bags-cottonandtravel

Guatemalan Bags

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.

http://remezcla.com/features/culture/maya-weavers-etsy-shopify-google/

https://fashionista.com/2017/08/guatemalan-artists-etsy-copyright-infringement

 

 

 

One thought on “7 Ethical Fashion Brands from Guatemala promoting ancestral know-how !”

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *