MayaWorks partners with over 125 low income indigenous women in the central highlands of Guatemala. Seventy percent of these artisans are Cakchiquel Maya and thirty percent are Tz'utujil Maya. In addition, seventy percent come from extremely poor and remote hamlets of the Chimaltenango and Sololá areas. Over the past 15 years, these artisans have received over $2 million in income from the sale of their handcrafted products. They have also received microloans to grow small enterprises, Spanish literacy classes, as well as technical, professional, and personal growth trainings.
Artisans: 8 women, between 35-60 years old
Location: Agua Caliente, Chimaltenango
Strengths: Agua Caliente uses creativity and skill to design beautiful hand-woven fabrics on the backstrap and treadle foot looms. They are master weavers and incorporate indigenous designs into modern pieces.
Bio: The women of Agua Caliente live in a rural hamlet in the Central Highlands of Guatemala 10 km from the Pan American Highway. These artisans are expert weavers, and apply both creativity and meticulous skill to their hand-woven fabric. Our Mayan artisan partners love to craft new designs and often present MayaWorks with prototypes for new product consideration. A majority of people from this community suffer from extreme poverty, illiteracy and lack basic formal education. The women were among the first artisans to receive literacy trainings with MayaWorks, and have achieved a sixth grade reading level in Spanish. In addition to literacy classes, the women have received leadership and women's' empowerment trainings, as well as sewing and weaving trainings from MayaWorks.
Artisans: 6 artisans, between 30-60 years old
Location: Xetonox, Tecpán
Strengths: The women of Xetonox are incredibly hard working. They have learned to weave 36" wide fabric by the yard on a treadle foot loom, a craft normally reserved for men. They create beautiful handcrafted fabric for many products, and also use recycled cornhusk to craft our angel ornaments.
Bio: The women of Xetonox reside in an indigenous rural hamlet in the department of Tecpán, about eight km from the Pan American Highway in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Nestled in the beautiful scenery of rolling hills and lush greenery, the artisans of Xetonox create MayaWorks products on treadle foot looms and use their sewing skills to complete final construction on the products.
Among the first artisans to work with MayaWorks, Xetonox has benefited from literacy programs, weaving and sewing trainings, as well as training on soap-making. Several artisans receive MayaWorks microloans for their small agricultural enterprises. Some projects include growing strawberries, peas, or blackberries, and others use loans to raise piglets or buy parts for their looms.
Artisans: 8, between 25-55 years old
Location: San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango
Strengths: The Tzanjuyu group is a tight knit group that has many talented artisans. This group works with many products that have complicated sewing construction. They also weave 36" wide fabric and hand-weave on backstrap looms.
Bio: The women of Tzanjuyu reside in an indigenous town of San Juan Comalapa, in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, 28 km from the city of Chimaltenango. These artisans have shown great enthusiasm and innovation with the creation of new designs over the years. They are experts at crafting each product, and show exceptional sewing skills. They are very concerned with quality control, and the group works together to ensure each item is handcrafted to perfection.
Artisans: 9 women and 3 men, between 25-50 years old
Location: San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango
Strengths: The Chixot group is one of only two groups that has both men and women artisans. These artisans are experts at handcrafting complicated products such as bags, baby products, and personal accessories. They are excellent at sewing, and using the over lock machine for products with dense fabric.
Bio: The Chixot members live in the town of San Juan Comalapa, about 28 km from the city of Chimaltenango. Each member of this group has received some formal education and is able to read and write. This group has the ability to finish difficult projects that require expert sewing ability. In addition, some members of this group are able to weave on a backstrap loom and create hand-woven fabric.
San Marcos La Laguna
Artisans: 30 women and 3 men, between 20-60 years old
Location: San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlán, Sololá
Strengths: San Marcos specializes in crocheted products. Each item is hand-crocheted with incredible skill and creativity. These artisans handcraft our crochet kippot (yarmulkes), which takes about 3 hours to complete. The group also produces adorable crochet products for our Florecita Baby Collection.
Bio: San Marcos La Laguna is a beautiful coastal town on the shores of picturesque Lake Atitlán. This group began crocheting as a means to raise money for a community women’s health program. Now the women earn a steady income with the sales of their hand-crocheted products ranging from kippot to crochet Mary Janes. The San Marcos group is proud to be receiving a literacy training to read, speak and write in Spanish!
Artisans: 52 women, 10 men, between 20-60 years old
Location: Santiago Atitlán, Lake Atitlán, Sololá
Strengths: The Santiago Atitlán group is the largest of our groups. Their skills range from crochet and beading to treadle foot loom weaving. Beading MayaWorks products requires patience and detail. The beading group applies creativity to their work, often creating new designs. The 20 artisans who hand-crochet MayaWorks products use expert skill and colorful cotton thread to handcraft crochet kippot. Finally, the stole weavers use traditional weaving techniques to hand weave each stole on a small foot loom.
Bio: Nestled on the shores of the Lake Atitlan, in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, 62 indigenous Tz'utujil Maya of the Santiago group beaded, crochet and woven products. Santiago Atitlán is well-known for its artisan tradition of embroidery, weaving, and beading. MayaWorks artisans weave these tiny glass beads into stunning beaded bracelets, rings, necklaces, Christmas ornaments, and animal keychains. The crochet group handcrafts the traditional Jewish kippot for MayaWorks. In Panabaj, a hamlet in the hills of Santiago, a small group of ten weavers use small treadle foot looms to create the colorful religious stoles.