Welcome back to our "Unwrapping the Stories" series, where we bring you behind the scenes of Intertwined's artisan collaborations. Today's tale is one of hope, resilience, and the beauty that arises from unexpected challenges.
In early September, we embarked on a journey to Guatemala to collaborate with the incredibly talented leather artisan, Lorenzo Ortiz. Armed with a vision and a bundle of gorgeous huipils from the Chichicastenango market, we set out to create three new artisan bag styles. Our workdays were long but productive, and we left with a sample of the huipil bucket bag, eager to see the final versions of the leather crossbody and the huipil clutch.
A small area in the Chichicastenango market where we source our huipils.
A pile of huipils we were considering
However, our return to the U.S. marked the beginning of an unforeseen chapter. Guatemala was swept by political protests that lasted more than two weeks, disrupting daily life and impeding the artisans' ability to work. Conversations with our friends in Guatemala revealed the hardships they faced – from difficulty sourcing supplies to challenges in obtaining basic necessities like food. The closure of markets meant no income for the artisans, who rely on selling their crafts to locals and tourists alike.
In the midst of these uncertainties, we at Intertwined found ourselves torn between the anticipation of receiving our beautiful bags and the realization of the significant impact our orders had on our Guatemalan friends. We pay our artisans half of the order's price upfront, providing crucial financial support, with the remaining half paid upon shipment.
Fortunately, amidst the protests, there were brief breaks that allowed the artisans to complete their work and ship the products to us. The results speak for themselves – the craftsmanship in these artisan bags is nothing short of extraordinary. Lorenzo, with his immense talent, not only creates stunning pieces but also mentors young individuals in his community, actively working to make it a better place.
Lorenzo works on the braided leather of the huipil small bucket bag.
Lorenzo dreams of a future where his workshop thrives with orders, necessitating the hiring of more hands and the construction of a three-level workspace. It's a dream we at Intertwined wholeheartedly support and one that symbolizes the resilience and optimism of artisans like Lorenzo, who find strength even in the face of adversity.
As you unwrap your Intertwined products this holiday season, we invite you to not only appreciate the craftsmanship but also the stories of hope, determination, and collaboration woven into each thread. Stay tuned for more stories of inspiration in our 12 Days of Christmas series – because every product has a story, and every story deserves to be shared.