International Women’s day was sometime last month, and this post would’ve been absolutely perfect to be published on that day, because today we are not only going to talk about a brand but also celebrate the people that built it- the Maya women! A group of women who have come together in their small town of Cajolá, to honor their legacies, culture and traditional inheritances but mainly for survival.
M A Y A M A M W E A V E R S
A B O U T
Mayamam weavers is a cooperative of women in Cajolá, a mayan town in the western highlands of Guatemala. Mayamam Weavers create handwoven home goods and accessories for modern living, inspired by the rich colors, patterns and weaving techniques of mayan culture.
In the United States, the cooperative is represented by a company based in New Jersey founded by Caryn Maxim– that sells products online as well as through retailers nationwide.
T H E S T O R Y
How Mayamam weavers came into existence is a very interesting and inspiring story of hope, it definitely gives us perspective. So, Caryn Maxim- the founder, met these women when they were still immigrants in her town Morristown, NJ. These women had organized themselves to look out for each other and had a dream to go back to Cajolá, build/develop their communities so that their people would not need to migrate to the United states and leave their families behind, in search of work.
The town of Cajolá is severely affected by migration, with nearly 30% of their population migrating to different countries in search of work. When Caryn started working with this weaving cooperative in Guatemala, the group had begun growing out of work and were looking out for ways to alleviate their poverty. Mayamam weavers was started in the U.S. with a vision to design and market handwoven goods to the US market, so that the women could earn a living wage.
There are thousands of weavers in Guatemala who sell their beautiful handwoven products at ridiculously low prices, just so that they could buy food and medicine for their families. That’s where Mayamam comes into picture, it helps these group of women take important business decisions, also making sure they receive fair wages and the right price for their products.
T H E C O M M U N I T Y
These group of women are quite the inspiration, they not only take great interest in working and bettering their techniques but also support one another in growing their community stronger. These women are also a part of a community called Grupo Cajola, this mainly focuses on their education, economic development and also supports small businesses in training and development.
These women are also offered literacy classes on site and are expected to commit to it until they reach six grade proficiency. This community also offers scholarship programs for the women weavers along with their families. This has benefitted several families whose children are studying in various schools and universities.
F A I R T R A D E
Mayamam Weavers is a member of Fair trade federation and places great importance on how they treat their weavers reflects in the wages. They work on external standards laid down by the board and internally the decisions are made by the group consensually.
The women in the group are learning to take business decisions and understanding what living wage means. Why is this so important you ask? Every person is entitled to know what a living wage means and deserves to be paid for the work and hours he/she clocks in.
E T H I C A L P R O C E S S
All products at Mayamam weavers are ethically sourced/made and sustainable, they place great importance on the quality of their products. They work directly with the yarn suppliers making sure their dyes are non toxic and environment friendly.
The weaving process contains a quality check assigned to one woman weaver, who makes sure their products pass the standards laid down by the cooperative. Although cristicisng your colleague’s work is not common in their culture, they understand that its important for the growth of the cooperative.
T H E P R O D U C T S
Their colorful handmade products instantly reminded me of India, it just goes to show how cultures can be similar one level and yet have such varied techniques of work. Mayamam weavers offer colorful home goods to accessories, I was particularly very impressed by their accessories like cosmetic bags and wraps. They’re designed in traditional Guatemalan style with stripes, plaids and patterns. I received a few of them for this review, read to know more.
Cosmetic Bag These colorful bags are perfect for travel or to just store your cosmetics at home. They are made in vibrant colorful fabrics with a contrast lining that’s waterproof for the ultimate protection. Now who wouldn’t want a vibrant cosmetic bag that can be easily tossed into your tote?
Jewelry Roll This has to be the cutest jewelry bag, it’s colorful and so functional- now that’s a great combination, isn’t it? Made in 100% cotton fabric with satin lined zippered pockets to store your precious trinkets and a tab to hold and secure your rings. I am in love with this, it’s a great way to carry your small pieces of jewelry while traveling.
Kimono Wrap When there’s still a nip in the air and flowers are beginning to blossom, carry this around for an evening stroll. I fell in love with this colorful kimono, it has a windowpane weaving and is so lightweight. It’s great to be used as a swimsuit cover up, a kimono, a wrap or even just as a shawl. It’s super versatile and works great on most colors.
Backstrap Basic Tote This tote bag is very functional, not too big just the right size. Carry it around when you need to run errands or even to college and work. It’s roomy enough to hold your books, wallet and basic essentials and it comes in vibrant colorful combinations with traditional Maya motifs woven on them. With this bag on your shoulders, you’re sure to receive some compliments.
All of their products are made from 100% cotton fabrics, handwoven on looms expertly to add strength in varied colors.
Why support them?
The story of Maya women and their cooperative group is oh so inspiring and when you know your purchases and every penny would reach the right person and used wisely, supporting them becomes an obvious choice. For Maya women, weaving has been a way of expressing their identity for thousands of years, a way to hold onto their culture and sustain the legacy passed on by their ancestors with so much love. These women are also the perfect example of #womensupportingwomen, we could use some inspiration there, don’t you think?
Mayamam Weavers, has opened up a big door to these weavers, as it provides them with opportunities to showcase their talents, a market to sell their products, a foundation to hone their skills and a secured future for their families and more importantly their community.
Caryn Maxim, the founder hopes to see these women take on active leadership roles while bring true to their traditional values. She wishes for these women to run this cooperative as an independent business and take full charge of it’s responsibilities.
We hope that people will learn to appreciate the beauty of a hand woven article that is meant to last, not throw away and we strive to be a good example of the potential for success of business practices that take into account people and nature. Caryn Maxim, Founder- Mayamam Weavers
This post has been sponsored by Mayamam Weavers. All opinions here, however, are honest and my own.