"I was born in a peaceful town in the Department of Sacatepéquez in Guatemala. It's a beautiful place with verdant valleys and people who are warm and hardworking, with traditions that still live across the centuries....
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Vilma Leticia Chile
"I was born in a peaceful town in the Department of Sacatepéquez in Guatemala. It's a beautiful place with verdant valleys and people who are warm and hardworking, with traditions that still live across the centuries. In this setting, I grew with my mother and grandparents.
"Everyone in my family did some kind of art. My mother and grandmother were weavers and my grandfather organized the traditional dances that liven up important dates and accompany processions.
"As a child, I learned a little of every handicraft done in my home. I learned to weave when I was very young, thanks to my mother and grandmother. I learned to paint and to combine colors and fabrics for costumes from my grandfather.
"After I finished my studies, my mother, grandmother and I decided to help my grandfather organize traditional dances. I really liked the Dance of the Giants, the Little Bull dance and the Dance of the Deer. The music, masks and colorful costumes thrilled me, but watching my grandfather enjoy his work made me even happier.
"As time went by, I immersed myself more and more in the history, meaning and relevance of the traditional dances. I realized that the apparel used is more than costumes – they have a great history that must be told to the world.
"This is how I got the idea of creating items with the theme of these dances, which are so important for our culture. We began to make puppets, key rings and masks, and they sold very well. Little by little, our workshop grew. We created new designs and improved the existing ones.
"Today, my husband works with me in our little workshop. We have a few assistants who help us. All our designs are carved by hand, requiring much effort and dedication, but the love we have for our work gives us the motivation we need to go on.
"I have several dreams and goals. I want our workshop to continue growing so we can offer work to more families. I'd love to go back to school and become a lawyer and notary. But deep in my heart, I want our children to take an interest in our art, to appreciate it and be able to create their own designs some day.
"In my free time, I like to be with the family, play with our daughters, read, research about our culture and give community talks on happy marriages.
"Each of our designs is created by hand so you can experience and feel the magic of a nahual,
which is the protective spirit each person has from the moment of birth."