Trama Textiles is an association of artisan women backstrap loom weavers in Guatemala. We work directly with 400 women from 17 weaving cooperations across 5 regions in the western highlands of Guatemala; Sololá, Huehuetenango, Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango and Quiché.
Our mission is to create work for fair wages for the women of Guatemala, to support our families and communities, and to preserve and develop our cultural traditions by maintaining our textile arts and their histories.
We envision a cooperative of women, all economically stable, trained in a diversity of weaving skills, and with Trama always there to support them further when they face struggles with healthcare, with sending their kids to school, etc. Our organization will preserve the art of traditional backstrap loom weaving no matter how big fast fashion gets.
Weaving is a century-old Mayan art form still very much part of Mayan life across Guatemala. Every region can be identified by the unique patterns on their woven clothing. Despite their expertise, it’s often hard for weavers to make a living from their art, especially as many of them do not speak Spanish. This is where Trama Textiles intervenes. Our weavers decide on the price we pay them for each product. Each woman is paid up front and in full for her work and is guaranteed a fair wage for what she has produced. This allows the women in our communities to earn an income to support themselves and their families in a region where paid work is hard to find.
- Traditional backstrap loom and footloom woven products
- Jaspe products
- Embroidered products
- Custom design products
- Weaving demonstrations
- Weaving classes
- Educational scholarships for girls
- Volunteer opportunities
- Weaving training
We also support the women through our Almaya Fund, providing education to the weaver's children and skills training to the weavers.
We address the issue of stable, fair wages for women weavers, and cultural preservation. The cooperative was formed by indigenous women who were struggling to survive after the Civil War destroyed their homes and took away many of the men in their families (the traditional money-makers). The women found that if they worked together to weave products, they could create more designs and produce enough products to send orders to the cities and to other countries. By doing so, they were able to cut out the middle man and begin earning live-able wages.
Throughout the decades, this has continued to prove true, and the women have invested their earnings into their children's education, their families' health, and their village economies. Empowering women entrepreneurs is proven to not only improve their own lives, but to improve the lives of an exponential amount of people around them.
We have worked with and employed over 400 indigenous Guatemalan women to date, including many family lineages of grandmothers, mothers and daughters of the same family.
We have not been able to collect data on the average economic gains of women in the cooperative (something we hope to begin doing soon).
We have sold an average of 260 products over the last two years, and supplied 25 new designers with custom or wholesale products, spreading awareness in the global community of the traditional art of Mayan backstrap weaving.
We measure our impact through sales and women participating and making income in the cooperative.
Size and/or structure
We have grown to include more weavers.
The types of products we sell have diversified.
Way in which you collaborate or work with others
We work with a lot more designers to make custom orders in recent years.
We hope to continue to expand our reach through marketing and increase our sales, we plan to have multiple part time interns this summer which will grow our capacity as well, we plan to assess the impact we are having on our weavers and to spread/expand that impact.
We want to make stricter Quality Control Guidelines that our weavers must follow, therefore our products will be of better quality, we want to finally be able to meet with all of our village representatives again (missed a year due to COVID-19) and hear any concerns and improve the way we are doing things to address those concerns.
Put in place and implement better data collection on the economic impact we are having on the women in the cooperative, launch our Education Fund and begin funding scholarships for girls to attend school, start weaving trainings to diversify women's weaving skills so they can sell more products and make more money.
Become a popular brand/source of products for designers across the world, be able to give each women in the cooperative a full time fair wage that will allow them to support their whole family, send all their kids to school, etc.
Build the network into an engaged group of educated women who all are fully participating in shaping the cooperative, have all women be well-trained, know how to read basic information about weaving, feel equipped to take on tough new designs, and have all of our products be of high quality.
Accomplish a substantial amount of fundraising and have a scholarship program, mobile clinic program, and vocational educational program (and more) in full swing reaching all members of the cooperative and their families/villages.