Preparing the Thread
Meet Anita. Anita is the head of a cooperative of women weavers in a rural Guatemalan village just a hop, skip, & a jump from Panajachel. She is passionate about sustaining work for the co-op so they can continue to provide for themselves & their families.
The process of making all of our Guatemalan products begins with this group of women hand spinning individual bolls of cotton into thread. This labor intensive process involves rolling pieces of raw cotton between your fingers & then pulling it apart with just the right amount of force to maintain a consistent diameter of thread.
The cotton thread is then wound around a long stick and loaded onto a system of wooden dowels in preparation to be dyed.
The Dyeing Process
Meet Rosario. Rosario learned the Mayan tradition of creating botanical dye from her grandmother.
As an art she has perfected throughout her life, Rosario intuitively knows just the right amount of bark, cochineal insects, or dried flowers to get the perfect hue.
Each color is made by boiling these natural ingredients in water for about 10 minutes. Once the liquid is strained, the raw cotton thread is dipped over & over. The more times Rosario dips the thread in the dye, the darker the final color.
The finished thread is then hung to dry in the sun.
Weaving the Fabric
Meet Veronica. Before she started working with Purse & Clutch, Veronica spent her days trying to finding odd jobs to support her family. As a dedicated single mother of four, with the added logistics of caring for a special needs daughter, finding consistent employment was proving to be a difficult challenge.
When we discovered Veronica had learned to weave Guatemalan textiles at a young age, we were eager to have her join our team of weavers, Rosella & Maria. Now she is able to provide for her family financially while working from home so she can continue to care for her daughter.
Traditional Guatemalan weaving uses backstrap looms to interlace horizontal threads over & under vertical threads to construct various fabric designs. It takes Veronica, Rosella, & Maria about a week to finish a yard & a half of fabric each.
Once the woven fabric is finished, it’s handed off to the Silvia or Cata who cut & sew it into the final product. One bolt of fabric typically makes five to seven larger items like pillow covers or wristlets. Any remaining fabric is used to make the smaller items such as keychains & coin purses so that none of the beautiful fabric goes to waste.
Meet Silvia. Silvia loves to take on the more complicated sewing tasks & is always up for a challenge. Silvia’s mother worked hard to send her to seamstress school, but when her family was robbed they were unable to pay for her to finish the course. She began to work at a clothing factory in Guatemala where she worked 10 hours a day, 7 days a week where she barely earned enough to live on. Now, earning a fair wage working reasonable hours at Purse & Clutch, Silvia boasts of being able support her family including buying all of her son’s school supplies!
Cata loves cranking out quick projects in bulk (she's incredible at making tassels). She’s saving to get rid of her dirt floors that muddy during the rainy season & install clean, concrete ones.
By purchasing from Purse & Clutch, you're supporting the livelihood of these women
as well as supporting our mission to continue to grow to hire more & more women in Guatemala
in need of steady & dignified employment.
And then it's time to start dreaming up next season!
Meet Angela. Angela has a Bachelor's of Science in Apparel Merchandising & Production Development from the University of Arkansas. She's always dreaming of color combinations, patterns & new products she's eager to get into production.
We have each of our new weavers loom a long piece of fabric of all the different patterns they know. Angela then mixes & matches different lines of patterns or repeating patterns to develop just the right combination to go with the colors she has dreamed up for the season.
Meet Melissa. Melissa grew up in a family of artists who were always making & creating. She takes Angela's designs & translates them into sample products for the season, patterning each products specifically to the skill sets of our seamstresses at the beginning of each season & teaching the Silvia & Cata any new sewing skills they may need.
Once the designs are ready, Melissa coordinates with Anita about nailing down the color for the botanically dyed threads & with Lindsey, our Quality Control Manager who oversees the weavers & seamstresses in the workshop & keeps everything running smoothly.