We are so excited to announce the beginnings of our work in the wonderful country of Guatemala! We have long been fascinated by this country, rich with history, art, and culture, and friendly people, and it is a true honor to have the opportunity to work there. Walking in the markets there feels like you are in the Mecca of hand crafted beauty. We'd like to take a moment and introduce to you our newest product, Guate Kicks! Our good friend Andres has been urging us to begin work in his home country of Guatemala. He introduced us to Sonia, who is famous in the markets of Antigua for making a lot of artisan goods. She and her community are the people behind these rocking kicks. The winter version of these Kicks are a cozy bootie, with beautiful hand-loomed fabrics on the outside, and warm fleece on the inside. I (Sophie) has just returned from spending a week with the community in Guatemala, and would like to share some stories about the makings of Guate Kicks.
From our first phone call, I knew she was special! She had that sing-song Guatemalan way of speaking, was so kind and gracious, we were instantly connected though we were over 1,600 miles apart . Two weeks later, I was in a car with her and her husband headed to their home in Comalapa, Guatemala. Comalapa is not as well known on the travelers circuit as some of the other places in Guatemala, but it is where a ton of the weavings, embroideries, fabrics, and other goods are produced and then resold in the larger markets and shops. Comalapa itself is situated in the middle of the region of Guatemala City, Chichicastenango, Panajachel, and Antigua, making it accessible for the artisans to get their goods out to those tourist destinations. The town is small, about 20,000 people, and the majority of residents are employed either in agriculture (corn and strawberries), or artisan goods. The town itself is in an impoverished area with few jobs available so everyone must find their own opportunities or commute to the bigger surrounding cities.
One thing that really struck me in my first conversations with Sonia was that when I asked her how much she thought she could produce in a given time, she said she could do whatever we needed because there were always people in the community who needed work. That spirit of community and of sharing was evident in everything Sonia and her family did. The story of her father's life is unlike anything I have ever heard before, he has undergone such tragedy, hardship, and suffering and yet with his hard work he built a better life for his children, who have in turned followed that same work ethic to provide a bright future for their own children. It really drove home the message that people in impoverished areas need opportunities for income, and they will work harder than anyone to take care of their families. Sonia's father has a saying that "La pobreza no te mata, la pereza sí." (poverty doesn't kill you, laziness does.) Sonia and her father's growing community of artisans live by this mantra. Both Sonia and her father employ or contract people in the community, sharing the work they have and looking out for their neighbors. Sonia has true leadership qualities, and an open heart, and we are very excited to continue working with her and her community in Guatemala!
Guate Kicks, winter style, all feature hand-loomed fabric made in Comalapa. The process of weaving fabric on the loom is fascinating, there are many elements the artisan must keep track of at once - the foot pedals, passing the spindle with the cotton string back and forth, pulling the heavy "comb" forward, and of course mastering each unique pattern. Most of the people in the area have a loom in their house, and sometimes when you're walking down the street you can hear the thump thump thump of the loom. All the patterns are designed by the artisans, and they've made a wide variety of patterns to choose from - rainbows, blues, greens, oranges, traditional patterns, neutral colors, and many more! The booties are lined with cozy fleece, and they have a durable soft sole. These booties are perfect for lounging around the house, work, airplanes, anywhere and everywhere!
We will have the Guate Kicks with us at all of our upcoming shows and markets, and as always you can order them online as well!