A handmade gift cannot be easily found or replaced.
Time, energy, love and passion were needed to create it,
therefore making it very special valuable and unique.
– My own quote
I have a confession to make. I am a HUGE fan of handicrafts and handmade gifts. They are the labor of love from their creators but also a representation of their rich history and culture which can be purchased and brought back where we reside.
Throughout my many travels around the world, I have found myself being drawn like a magnet to local markets where you find everything under the sun. However my attention goes to paintings, woodwork and most importantly, textile arts. I have a particular love for bags, blankets, scarves and accessories.
Last time I was in El Salvador (the country where I am originally from), I planned a day trip to a city famous for its colorful textiles, San Sebastian.
There are stores and workshops which allow visitors to watch skilled artisans at work.
Not only the process was explained, I actually had the privilege of witnessing how a blanket is being made with the Telares or looms, just like it has been done for hundreds of years.
As incredible as it may seem, the product can take from a few days to a few weeks to complete. The final product is nothing short of spectacular.
I love contributing the local economy and support these family owned businesses. That is why I never leave empty-handed and make sure to bring back a few souvenirs with great stories attached to them!
Now since I am restless and adventurous (and taking advantage of the last days of my trip to Central America before coming back home), I decided to go even further and beyond the borders! I decided to visit Guatemala City and Antigua Guatemala
which had been calling my soul and I am so glad I did. The four-hour road trip with my family and driver was a true adventure.
Truth be told, there is something magical about Antigua Guatemala. As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle, I felt transported to another time, a few centuries.
With its cobble-stone streets, colonial buildings, pastel-hued houses with terra-cotta rooftops, volcanoes in the background, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient capital makes you fall under its charm almost immediately.
As I mentioned earlier, my strategy to learn more about the history and culture about a city or country is to visit local markets and speak to the locals who are more than willing to share stories passed on to them.
Our driver and tour guide took us to Nim Po’t Centro de Textiles Tradicionales where you can find colorful and unique handicrafts made by Mayan artisans. From rugs, to blankets, to clothes to bags, there is so much to choose from!
Purchasing any of these products allow these workers to have a better future and improve their lives by keeping their ancestor’s traditions alive and pass on the skills in this technologically driven (and hungry) society.
What did I purchase you may be asking?
Well, take a look.
Whenever I look at them now, I smile and remember vividly that fun day and all it took for me to acquire them. I did say I love adventures right? This is my free color therapy on days I need an extra boost!
Here’s another secret I want to share with you. I was so inspired after visiting these two special places, that I decided to start experimenting and creating my own handmade products.
I started knitting, yes you read that right. Trust me it was super difficult at first because I did not know what to purl, knit, stitch, purl or yarn over meant. I did go online and viewed some video tutorials which helped me a great deal and learned the basics.
Afterwards I simply went with my instincts and started working away. I learned early on that it requires a lot of time, patience, dedication and most importantly FOCUS!
Fast forward a few years. Though I’ve not become a knitting diva yet, I sure have made some important progress. I’ve also been working hard on improving my crochet skills and love getting lost in aisles such as this one in search of materials for my next project.
As they say, good things take time but worth it in the end 🙂
What have I produced?
Check out the tuque and scarf I used last winter
Laptop cover protector
I’ve also created baby booties, tuques and small purses among others.
As I said, it is unbelievable how you can create colorful, creative and original, one-of-a-kind pieces that make you feel proud of such accomplishments but make you appreciate similar articles when you see them in stores or sold by organizations. It’s super important to support them!
I recently learned that Macy’s, one of the world’s retail leaders, created the #GlobalGoods Partners Line of Products
and has local partner in Guatemala, Algodones Maya to offer “Gifts That Give Hope”.
Macy’s main purpose of is to empower women in Latin-American and other countries around the world to earn a fair living wage by doing what they know best, producing and selling hand-woven articles (which are all unique) and also to offer a better future for their children, families and communities.
To find out what Fair Trade is all about, the World Fair Trade Organization established 10 principles which are very clear and easy to understand.
Image source: World Fair Trade Organization
I received a striped natural rug and I realized that it was not just a normal rug. It is the result of time, patience, knowledge, perseverance from a skilled rug weaving artisan who surely learned from the Mayan ancestors and generations that go back centuries.
To be completely honest, I simply said:”bless the hands of the person who prepared this for me and may she receive more blessings and opportunities to raise, feed and educate their children in the future!”
These women must truly be passionate and master art of weaving! Imagine how they’ve to find the means to purchase environment friendly materials, follow socially responsible methods of production of these products and delivering them before reaching many destinations around the world. Isn’t that so much more than work of love? 🙂
The direct impact it has and will have may not only be for the present but also for future generations to come.
As the Global Goods Partners motto goes: “Buy handmade good, change women’s lives” and that is absolutely true.
I invite you to visit Macy’s and Global Good Partners on their websites and social media channels:
Global Goods Partners: http://globalgoodspartners.org/
Now I turn it over to you!
Do you buy handmade gifts when you travel?
What have you brought back from your travels around the world?
Do you support local producers?
Tell us all about it in the comments
Until next time, hasta la próxima!
I received the product from Macy’s via the Everywhere Agency; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed have, are and always be my own.