As Fair Trade As It Gets: Get Great Guatemalan Gear From “B’atz'”

Guatemalan Woman Textiles

Guest post for “B’atz‘” written by Matilde, Daniel and Sara that will tell you how to get some great gear, and support a wonderful cause. Seriously, some cool products. Everybody’s winning here! -LMA Check out what you get for donating to their Indigogo Page

“Let’s make beautiful boots and bags with amazing local textiles and fund microloans with them!” It sounded like a simple idea, and all three of us were full of enthusiasm. In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that we were unaware of just how complex it would be to put into practice, we might have given up before we started. The concept gained momentum slowly, and then all at once.

Guatemalan Shoes

First, we talked it over a million different times, picking apart details and wondering if it couldGuatemalan Textile really work. Then we started making prototypes, a much slower and more frustrating process than we had imagined. It felt like there was always some small detail to be improved – on one particular occasion we spent an entire week combing through Guatemala City looking for buttons that were just the exact right shade of brown. Then things started moving faster and we were spending every waking minute choosing textiles, making plans, and staying up all night sketching designs.

PurseIt’s been a bumpy and beautiful ride, but B’atz’ has been born, and we are hoping to grow into an organisation that offers everybody the opportunity to be a part of a positive ecosystem that celebrates creativity and culture.

The vibrant textiles that are such an integral part of Guatemala are hard not to fall in love with. Their most iconic representation is in the “huipil”, a handwoven blouse that many women here proudly wear every day. Patterns for huipiles vary from village to village and between families, making the possibilities almost endless.

It’s easy to represent these beautiful textiles as traditional in a static sense, but we are proud1540421_10154863291625486_8237309062263833276_o of our country (adopted in Sara’s case) and want to celebrate them for what they are – a dynamic and constantly evolving part of Guatemalan culture. Recently, in much of the world there has been a rising demand in fashion carelessly labelled “ethnic” or “tribal”, and designs are often clumsily tossed around under these labels. Coming across these trends, we often found ourselves asking “Tribal what?”, “Ethnic who?” “What do these words even mean?”

We believe it is important to recognize that these patterns seem exotic to many because they belong to people who are often marginalized and given limited opportunities to participate in Guatemalan Pursedecisions about their creations. With the foundation of B’atz’, we want to foster partnerships with artisans based on mutual respect and cooperation, returning genuine cultural value to Guatemalan textile art and creating a platform for opportunity.

B’atz’ means “thread” in the Mayan language Kaqchikel. It represents the thread of life that unites all living things, and in daily life it is the thread that is used to weave the beautiful textiles that we are so passionate about. These threads tie each of us to our communities and cultures all over the world, but they also connect us to each other through bridges that allow us to share skills and inspiration. We immediately knew that B’atz’ was the perfect name for us, because building bridges is a fundamental part of our what we do. Bridges that allow talented local artisans to share their skills, that allow the world to be inspired by their creations, and that provide women with sustainable and empowering paths to prosperity. This is what we strive to be.

Women are at the heart of Guatemala’s vibrant textile culture, and also of what we do at Guatemalan SkirtB’atz’. We know that they have the potential to be powerful agents of revolutionary change in their communities, and we believe that with the opportunity to earn a sustainable living this potential can be unleashed.

B’atz’ is about linking hands and fostering partnerships that strengthen people’s own ability to catalyse change, and we do this by investing in local talent and helping it to inspire the world. This is also why we chose to use a part of our proceeds to fund microloans for women, we believe that by investing in their own creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, we can help to make their ideas grow into positive forces that will benefit their families and communities.

We are very young and have a lot of growing to do, so if you are inspired by our story please check out our Indiegogo campaign where you can donate, spread the word, and even invest in beautifully and ethically handcrafted works of art to wear with pride.

– Thank you! Matilde, Daniel and Sara.

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