Maya Weavings is the inspiration of two gals living in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. One of us is 5, the other 58. One from the U.S., the other Guatemalan born. We're both bi-lingual though the shorter one has a better grasp of Spanish. One is the mamá of the other. From a tender age the short one has exhibited (and imposed) an uncanny flair for fashion.
The actual idea of Maya Weavings was born in the spring of 2013 while visiting Guatemala with the intention of learning Spanish and volunteering at a hospital for severely malnourished infants. During this trip I also spent a month in San Juan La Laguna taking backstrap loom weaving and natural dye classes and befriending some of the weavers. Their weavings are stunning and I wanted their art to be appreciated by the larger world.
But then, and still in Guatemala, I made one of those uprooting, earth trembling, life changing decisions Which Defy All Logic to seek custody of a tiny 10 month old baby that I had met at that hospital. Something inexplicable happened between us the first time I picked up this screaming squirming ball of Majo fury. After several dark nights of the soul I decided to blindly follow that something. I returned to the states to sell nearly everything I owned and 5 weeks later landed back in Guatemala with 5 giant cardboard boxes of all my worldly goods to begin a second motherhood.
Of course it was not the simple affair the lawyer said it would be. How we ended up together here in San Juan La Laguna became a very long story of orphanages, malnutrition, healing, fears, tears, innumerable visits with social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and lawyers, and 3 gut wrenching years of court hearings. And love - always love. We now have legal custody of each other which stipulates that at this time we may not leave Guatemala to visit the U.S. Even for a skinny minute.
When it was all said and done we moved as fast as we could from the rainy, cold and earthquake-prone highlands to the Maya town of San Juan La Laguna, a virtual paradise in comparison. Here we've lived ever since.
Majo and I handle all things Guatemalan - building relationships with the weavers, choosing the textiles and creating and maintaining the on-line presence. Steep steep learning curve here. And stateside we have our partners in crime: Ms. Cilla Laula, a.k.a. The Fairy Godmother, who handles inventory and lovingly mails the weavings to you...
and her husband Sandy Kohn who steadfastly photographed and rephotograped the weavings in our Inaugural Collection. They split their time between Charlotte, NC and Mackinaw City, MI faithfully hauling the weavings with them. When we are very very lucky they come to visit us.
There is so much more we could tell you about our strange life in Guatemala, but for now I'll leave you with Our Manifesto which is this:
- Beautiful: The weavings of the women of San Juan are beautiful and beautifully made. The use of natural dyes, the brilliance of the designs, the masterful way they are woven add up to a unique product that begs for a wider audience and deep appreciation.
- On a Mission: To enhance recognition, value and respect for the weavings and weavers of San Juan La Laguna. Guatemala is a small country still emerging from a brutal civil war that left more then 70% of the surviving indigenous Mayas living in poverty and 70% of their children with malnutrition. Despite this, the weaving continues and yes, strengthens. The formation of women's weaving cooperatives has given the Maya woman unprecedented power and choice in her life and the ability to create opportunities for her family. The Women weave together the past, the present and the future.
- Giving Back: The women that partner with us receive income twice for each of their weavings. First, through the original purchase by MayaWeavings and then again when a weaving is sold from this website. The weaver and her cooperative receive, at a minimum, another 20% of the sales price. We call this our +20% Back Policy. Kind of convoluted catchy - no? If you wish to make a donation directly to the weavers send us an email and we'll make it happen (we'll even send you a photo of us handing over the quetzales).
- Money: Of course. For the last 4 years Majo and I have been financially and emotionally supported by our wonderful friends and family. I continue to be in awe of this spontaneous shower of grace. Now that the niña is older and her health issues aren't as severe we're finally in a position to re-enter the world of financial self-sufficiency, give back to the community, and have some fun doing it. Maya Weavings is our opus.