With an incredible view of the bright blue lake, lush greenery and volcanoes, San Juan La Laguna is nested on the southwest edge of Lake Atitlán. It is a small town with just over 6000 residents, where the majority are Tz’utujil Maya, one of the 21 Maya ethnic groups that lives in Guatemala.
One of the members, Juana, remembers admiring her mother weaving when she was a little girl. Her and her sister would imitate their mother and act out the weaving motions as a game, using weeds as thread and coffee tree branches as tools. Today Juana is a talented and accomplished weaver as well as an ikat thread tying and dying specialist.
In 1992, five women, Celestina, Martina, Encarnación, Rosario and Nicolasa, came together to create the San Juan Cooperative out of a need for work and to support their families and offer a better life for their children.
Today the cooperative is made up of 14 artisans who meets regularly to discuss orders and other business activities, such as their natural dye and medicinal plant garden, which provides the local community with affordable access to traditional health care as well as serving as natural resource to create their natural dyes.
The traditional way of naturally dyeing textiles with plants and vegetables has almost been abandoned in Guatemala, since the introduction of synthetic dyes. It is far from common practise, but the artisans of San Juan are working to keep this ancestral Mayan culture and tradition alive.
The artisans natural dye recipes and techniques have been passed down from generation to generation. It is not common to use natural dyes in Guatemala, as it is more expensive and it requires a lot of effort, work and patience.
The group as a whole, along with each of its members, has experienced positive economic growth from the training and product orders generated via our partner NPO in Guatemala, who provides fair trade employment to artisans and rigorously integrate the 10 Principles of Fair Trade into their work across their cooperatives, communities, partners, staff, and volunteers.
The Linear cushion is handmade in San Juan La Laguna by the Artisans of San Juan. The backstrap weaving technique doesn't require any electricity and the equipment is light and can be set up almost anywhere. This provides the artisans with flexibility to balance the demands of running a home and providing an income. The artisans will experience a direct impact from your purchase, helping the artisans to support their families better and provide them with a sustainable economic development.