All of Altiplano's products are handcrafted in the highlands (Altiplano) of Guatemala. Based on the beautiful shores of Lake Atitlan, beneath towering volcanoes, Altiplano has been providing fair wage and employment for over 20 years. The Altiplano collection passes through many hands before reaching the consumer. Working with many of the same artisans since its inception, the quality and design of Altiplano products reflect years of experience. Altiplano provides employment opportunities to cooperative groups, small family businesses and to women in their own fair trade workshop.
Whether drawing from traditional techniques, or exploring new ones, owner/designer Shari Zarin is inspired by the skill and motivation of the many artisans that she works with. These artisans create exceptional textile collections using natural dyes and traditional weaving technique on backstrap looms.
In an effort to support traditional life, Altiplano offers women the opportunity to work at home, making them available for their children, and other domestic duties, while earning financial independence.
Asociacion Maya de Desarrollo
Asociacion Maya de Desarrollo is a worker cooperative of 180 women located in the highlands of Solola, Guatemala. All Asomadec’s members are weavers from around Pujujil and Los Encuentros in the Lake Atitlan area. Without formal training and only speaking their indigenous languages, kakchikel, these women have succeeded in the difficult task of controlling a growing, complex cooperative business. They have held training courses in tailoring, literacy and organization. The goal is to create work for Mayan women who weave with backstrap looms.
The women in the association play a pivotal role in preserving ancient Mayan traditions and culture through the use of the backstrap loom style of weaving, the oldest style of cloth-making in the world. They have been able to introduce new fibers and designs to their traditional techniques as well as a very unique dying process that can be admired in all of their scarves.
Artisans weave in their homes so they can still attend to their children and families. In addition, the women in the cooperative enjoy improved access to health care and a better diet, and their children are more likely to stay in school. The women also work along with the village government so together they can help improve the quality of life for all.
Corazón de Volcán
Corazón de Volcán is based in Guatemala, creating designer handicrafts combining tradition and innovation which reflects the cultural diversity of the country’s inhabitants. Designer Lucía Morán is associated with talented weavers and embroiderers who work from home.
In Corazon de Volcan, they recycle traditional fabrics combined with embroidery. They bring back to life those used objects, carefully choosing each piece of fabric so that it retains its meaning and becomes part of a new piece. Talso use natural dyes instead of harmful chemicals. The basic concept is to bring together the skills and ancestral knowledge of Guatemalan weavers with new and fresh designs.
The women work from home and this practice allows them to perform their daily activities like raising children, keeping a home and work accordingly to their own schedule. The women are able to improve the quality of life through their work.
CreArte is the craft division of International Fair Trade Company. It was established by CRECER in 2000 to improve the living conditions of small Guatemalan handicraft producers. CreArte support 400 producers who are organized in cooperatives, social associations, solidarity groups and family workshops.
Products are handmade and mainly produced in small villages by indigenous women. Their lines include personal accessories, fabric, home and garden products. The production involves indigenous women who combine traditional techniques with contemporary design elements. Most work with wool and textiles; they weave, knit, crochet and sew.
CreArte focuses on community development by building competitive business models that are economically viable and socially and environmentally responsible. With their services and activities, they build producer capacity. Women artisans can earn a livelihood while at the same time caring for their children.
Arising out of Friendship Bridge, a non-profit organization that provides microcredit and educational programs to women in Guatemala, the artisan cooperative La ComUnidad creates beautiful, women-made crafts whose sale improves the lives of the women who make them, their families, and their communities as a whole.
Friendship Bridge is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides microcredit and educational programs so women and their families can create their own solutions to poverty. The organization blends the short-term economic development needs of women through access to credit and education with the long-term goal of breaking the generational cycle of poverty by providing educational opportunities for their children. Friendship Bridge has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of rural people by investing in women entrepreneurs, first in Vietnam and now in rural Guatemala -- women who become leaders and agents of change for themselves, their families and communities.
The heart of Maiz's mission is to support The Child Hope Foundation, a center for children 5 to 15 years old who live in one of the poorest areas of Guatemala City. The center serves as a place for children to be free of the danger of living in a marginal area. The center provides care, help with homework, books, materials, sports, and nutritious meals. The center is run by a group of Sisters of Divine Providence.
Maiz creates a line for women inspired by the colors of Mayan culture; they make blouses, dresses, skirts, pants, tunics, bags and accessories. They take hand embroidered textiles from different regions in Guatemala, with the support of the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Clothing, and develop their own fresh and casual designs in the world of fashion.
Through the sales of their products, Maiz has been able to provide work for artisans and also sustain their children's program and feed children nutritious daily meals. Maiz maintains a safe and educational environment for all the children in the community.
Manos Preciosas of Guatemala works with Mayan artisans to create beautiful heritage crafts with modern design in the Guatemalan highlands. Precious Hands is proud to train, design, and produce handmade high quality products from Guatemala to all over the world. Precious Hands commits part of its profits to their micro loan program, which provides long-lasting and sustainable assistance to individuals in the communities where their artisans live and work. Through the program, individuals can earn fair wages, grow their businesses, and prosper, thus improving their lives and the lives of their children.
Since 1990 the founders of Manos Preciosas have been lending a helping hand in the form of medical missions, donations of medical and educational supplies and equipment, and educational scholarships and microloans in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Argentina. One of the main reasons for creating Manos Preciosas was to provide Guatemalan people the opportunity to make an honest living, to better their lives and the lives of their children. Since its inception, Manos Preciosas has provided assistance in many different ways that have immediate and tangible impact.
Mujeres Artesans Chawila
Mujeres Artesans Chawila is made up of women weavers who live in a mountainous village near the town of Chichicastenango in the highlands of Guatemala. Their founder Yolanda's design ability and expertise make her an artistically exceptional weaver who is a traditional "carrier" of the art and culture of backstrap weaving. With her special gift and years of experience, Yolanda is now known as one of the best weavers in her village and has organized a group of equally talented women to join her in taking their weaving to the global market.
In the 1980s, the community of La Esperanza (Hope) sprang up to the south of Guatemala City as the result of massive population displacement during Guatemala's 42-year civil war.
The women of UPAVIM (Unidas Para Vivir Mejor -- United to Live Better) have been working since 1988 to improve the quality of life for families in these communities through selling handicrafts at fair trade prices. The 80+ women creating these crafts are all mothers and homemakers. Some are widows, and many are the sole economic providers for their children. Through involvement with Upavim, these women are able to advance towards their goals, which they state as "Education, health care, employment opportunities, and personal development of women."
Upavim respects the cultural identity of farmers and artisan communities by selling products and using production methods that reflect the history and traditions of artisans and farmers. Upavim produces hair accessories, jewelry, Christmas tree ornaments, nativities, clerical stoles, sewing and knitting accessories, garden and kitchen accessories, table linens, pet products, kids toys, a large assortment of bags and wallets, and more.
Wakami is a fair trade enterprise founded in Guatemala by Cornell University graduate Maria Pacheco, collaborating with several rural artisan groups throughout Guatemala. A strong focus on community development, social entrepreneurship, and fair wages has vastly improved the lives of all the women artisans and their families. The idea behind Wakami is Dreams + Opportunities = Change.
Wakami works with its sister NGO, Earth Communities, which in turn provides coaching to the communities on business plans, craft training and anything else the women need to create and maintain a sustainable business. They have created a new concept, “Wakami Village,” which is a platform for change in the rural areas that provides the opportunity for all women to transform their lives, as well as their families’ lives and the welfare of the community. Wakami producers create woven jewelry that is sold in over 24 countries all over the world.
Job creation and women’s empowerment has had four great areas of impact in the communities, starting with family, education and nutrition where all children are monitored and checked; better living with clean water filters, solar energy equipment and organic produce; and community impact where everyone works on projects like improving roads, building parks and creating cultural spaces for everyone.