"Our mothers taught us to weave when we were only little girls, and they also taught us how to dye threads with natural pigments to protect our environment."
"We are a group of Guatemalan women, born and raised in San de la Laguna, near Atitlán Lake. We are a group of hard-working, creative and enterprising women with a desire to improve our lives, our families', and that of our community," says Rosario Mendoza, president of the association.
"Our mothers taught us to weave when we were only little girls, and they also taught us how to dye threads with natural pigments to protect our environment. In fact, that is our specialty – our weaves are done with cotton threads dyed with tree bark, leaves and fruits.
"We go by the name To'ooneel Ixoq, which in the Tzutujil Maya language means 'Feminine Development.' We chose this name because Ixoq means 'women' or that which is 'feminine,' and also because many of our founding members once formed part of Ixoq Ajkeem Association, and it is our way of thanking them for all that the association taught us. Now we feel ready to fly on our own, creating our own designs and collections based on our knowledge and expertise.
"We are a very united team, and the most beautiful thing about being in this team is that we support each other, and we encourage members to create their own designs. We feel empowered with this freedom to create, as well as to offer suggestions to others about colors and designs.
"Our dream is to one day have our own store and a community workshop. We want the store so that we can have a place where we can offer our products to tourists and other people visiting our community, while the workshop would offer us a solid, stable place where we can meet, discuss what needs to be planned, review and check our products.
"At the moment we each work from our own homes, which allows us to cook and look after our children, make sure they are completing their schoolwork. We can also do our chores, like going to the market, and we also love going for long walks around the lake – if it's not too cold we'll even jump in with the kids!
"On our free time we teach our daughters, just like our mothers taught us. We also sew and embroider our own dresses or huipiles and belts.
"We'd like to thank the Novica family and their clients for buying our products, because every piece you purchase contributes to our family's well-being and that of our community."