Week three in Oaxaca has certainly been a busy one. From travelling to artisan villages, finalising orders to staying up late at night sewing labels onto pieces and preparing them for shipment, we are gaining momentum. It is easy to get caught up in the madness but amongst the busy week, we also took time to slow down, listen and learn. Everyone has an incredible story to tell if you take the time to listen and for us, spending time at the artisan villages is the most important part, (and the most fun too!).
Early this week we returned to visit Artemia and Felix in Teotitlan del Valle and it was like visiting old friends. As soon as we walked in, Felix pulled out chairs whilst Artemia gifted us with local fruit. We spoke about our week and learnt more about Felix’s handmade ponchos. By the end of our visit Artemia invited us back to have breakfast at their home next week. It made me wonder how many people spent the time to get to know this beautiful couple. We watched as tourists came in and out of the shop, only stopping to ask the price of an item and moving on.
Moacir and I also spent another day in Santo Tomas Jalieza this week. Margarita who is a member of the women’s weaving co-operative invited us into her home to show us how she creates the co-ops bag designs. Walking into Margarita’s home, we could see why she loved working in her outdoor home-studio. Margarita’s courtyard was painted the most beautiful blue and different colours of cotton were displayed like a rainbow behind her old sewing machine.
As Margarita began transforming her hand loomed textiles into a bag, her son Lalito (who was on school holidays) set up his backstrap loom next to her and began weaving his own design. He was so proud to show us how well he could loom, just like his mother. Margarita’s mother-in-law soon appeared in the courtyard and began separating and preparing red, black and white thread to be loomed. Moacir and I felt truly grateful to be in the presence of three generations as we watched them create art that was so special to them.
Weaving was passed down from Margarita’s parents to her and now her son. The weaving process in their familiy is not just a means to make money, but is a way to conserve and continue their Zapotec traditions. Regardless of whether Lalito wants to pursue weaving as a career, it will always be his cultural tradition first.
What is now clear to us is that the women from the weaving co-operative believe in maintaining their weaving tradition whilst also adapting to the modern world. Evelia (director of the co-op) said that they all feel truly blessed when others appreciate and purchase their art. Evelia explained that creating something with so much meaning whilst providing for themselves and their families is a beautiful way to live. We certainly witnessed this in Margarita’s home and at the end of the day she showed us the bag she made with so much pride.
We then walked our way back up to the co-operative, following the dusty cacti trail. Here, Moacir spoke to the co-operatives committee sharing our vision for Cielo with them. Upon leaving, Moacir and I gifted Evelia with photos we took during our visit last week. Evelia then gave both Moacir and I hand loomed bracelets. She explained that it was so we could take a piece of Santo Tomas with us. This beautiful village and the women from the co-operative will always be in our hearts; our relationship is only just beginning.
Today we are launching another stunning collection that celebrates the traditions of natural dyes. We are releasing a range of handwoven one of a kind huipiles made by women from La Flor de Xochistlahuaca, Mexico. This incredible cooperative is comprised of 27 Amuzgo women who weave traditional designs from their community with the purpose of rescuing, preserving and promoting their ancestral techniques of spinning and dyeing.
Today we are launching a very special collection that is so close to our hearts and we want to give you all an insight into how these pieces came to be.
We often get asked about how we connect with our artisan partners. For us, we have found most of our makers by being on the ground in Mexico or Guatemala. We do a lot of research and spend time in each community. It can be difficult to form new partnerships while living in Australia, so sometimes we come across makers via the wonders of social media.
Mother’s Day in Australia is on Sunday the 12th of May and I know that many of you love to spoil the ladies in your lives with Cielo treasures, so we just wanted to give you the low down of our plans for the next couple of weeks.