“Hi, my name is Gretchen and my sister’s name is Valery.
“We have been inspired by living in different towns in the highlands of Guatemala. We thought about designing and creating crafts using traditional textile patterns in the Maya communities, but with a modern touch. Guatemala is a culturally rich country with 20 Maya groups, along with Garifunas, Xincas and Ladinos, but these groups have had historically complicated relations through ignorance of each group’s ideas and worldviews.
“Our mission is to take graphic elements, patterns and designs which represent traditional textiles full of meaning and incorporate them into accessories. We are eager to share these cultures’ views, understand ourselves a bit more and appreciate everything Guatemala can offer. Because of that, while working we always remember a phrase we made up, ‘Start to see ourselves, start to understand ourselves, start to appreciate ourselves.’ And that motivates us to make our many beautiful cultures known.
“Valery and I are very different, but we make a good team as sisters and work well together. We complement each other.
“Valery is very rational and extroverted. She likes challenges and working in a team. I am very introverted and in touch with the moment, very sensitive and I like living in harmony. Today, we both travel to the isolated corners of our country, getting to know people who inspire us. We listen to their stories and learn from them.
“We work with the young people in our community to empower them and allow them to have a regular income. By being involved in the entire craft process, we are interested in our helpers wanting to learn. We want them to enjoy working with their hands and encourage them to get involved in the creative process by contributing ideas to the whole project instead of just repeating processes. Our dream is to make known the cultural riches of Guatemala, to keep working in creative projects that can create bridges between people, to grow and train more girls in craft techniques, and to keep exploring the world and learning.
“All of the people working on this project are women. Our idea is to empower young women so that they can have a job that can earn them enough income and leave them time to achieve their dreams. Our project is still too small to say it’s impacted the community but, as it grows, each girl that joins us is learning to work and develop her creativity while earning an income to improve her future opportunities.”