"I am 24 years old, I live in Santiago Atítlan. I have been part of this cooperative for more than five years now, but I have done bead work since I was 13 years old. I really like to make products for another part of the world because it helps me support my family and it gives me other opportunities than I have here".
María works mainly with our beaded earrings, she has an amazing talent for turning any design idea we have into life, just by seeing a foto or talking about.
"I am 24 years old and have worked with the cooperative for five years. I started because my mother-in-law was working here, and recommended me working here instead because I could make a living of my beadwork. I really love working with this cooperative and this form of working, and I can't really think of any other dream than earning enough money to buy my own property and build a house"
Isabel works closely with Chonita making the beaded bags, she has the same brilliant eye for the details and a lot of patience to weave each bag that takes up to four days.
"I am from a small village outside of Santiago, and I am 27 years old. I have studied and graduated in 2012, but there was no work for me. So I continued doing beadwork after I graduated. But in 2016 I started my degree in Social Work, and I am able to pay for my studies by doing beadwork. My dream is to construct my own school in my village, because I really feel that the children there are given a poor education. That is what I am passionate about"
Sara creates a lot of the amazing bead embroidery that we use for our shirts and flower bags. She can turn any drawing into something beautiful.
"I am now 36, haha, wauw.. I live here in Santiago and have three children, and soon I will be a grandmother. I married really young, so I had my first child when I was 17 years old. I have been part of the cooperative for more than 17 years, It was a total coincidence that I became part of the organization. I met the founder on the street and was part of the early beginning where we found women affected by the Civil War to support through basic food provision. This developed into the Elder Center that we have now, and really the whole aspect of beadwork started because we needed to find a way to support ourselves asides from fundraising. And I know all kinds of beadwork so I suggested this, and that is really how it started.I am so proud to share my beadwork with people from foreign countries because it is our special work here in Santiago. I am proud to fight for the rights of the artisans and be persistent when it comes good wages for the women who do beadwork - it is so sad how little they are paid in the streets, but here we pay both by the hour and by the product. And also, the money we make within the coop gives good salary to the women, but it also pays partly for the meals we hand out every monday, wednesday and friday in the Elder Center"
Bernabela is the woman on top of the productions of all beaded work. She makes the designs come to life, she controls the quality and she has the biggest portion of spirit for herself, her work and our collaboration. Bernabela and I speak and chat on Whatsapp a few times a week, and that is really how our entire production is managed. Nothing fancy there.
I am 21 years old and I live in Santiago. I have lived here always and have worked with this cooperative for three years now, but I learned to do beadwork when I was 11 years old. I didn't have the opportunity to study because my father didn't earn a lot of money, and so I started working with beads to earn money. I no longer dream of studying, but I dream of making my own house here in Santiago with my family. I really feel content with working like this because it helps us a lot"
Chonita is the main master of our beaded bags. Of course by looking at a bag you know its not easy work, but more than anything you need to know exactly how much to pull when weaving and how to finish the details around the hanger and zipper - and she is the master of that.