It's not just a choice about choosing ethically it's about fare wage, and respecting the history that is woven into it.
So simply, this is the foundation to everything we are doing and creating here at DanaJo & Co.
What is a Huipil (wee-pill)? The blouse worn by indigenous women that are woven on a back strap loom, some take up to 4 months to create. These intricate designed tops, are created by memory from past relatives passing down the art... giving history a chance to live on. These designs can often times symbolize status, and link to different villages. They're a really important part of Maya cultural identity that date all the way back to pre-historic times!
Currently Huipils are facing two very distinct challenges!
1. Protection of traditional designs- factories of small and large status are poaching designs and creating knockoff versions... but this is STEALING! They are mass producing these intricate designs, and un-educated people know no difference... they see something popular and they want to purchase it. They see one bag for $100 or one for $368 and think... they look similar I'll save money and go with the cheaper one. WARNING- these are made in a factory by a machine... they are not and will never be authentic HUIPILS!
2. Struggle to make sure weavers are being paid a fair wage for their "recycled" Huipils. Many Maya women living in poverty are forced to sell their Huipils at super discounted prices. Middle men or women travel door to door and force these women to sell their Huipils for $3 or $4 a piece, making it seem like their getting a good deal. Then they resell them, or flip them into bags, purses, shoes ect and make maximum profit.
THIS SHATTERS MY HEART!
Transparency - we are founded on authenticity and transparency! So I'm about to get REAL with ya'll! (SEE my southern is coming out!) WE pay upwards to anywhere $45-$150 per... that's PER, Huipil.... You guys... this is disgusting that someone would rip these women off to the standard of offering them that low amount of money for their ART, their talent!
SECOND Life - When we source, meaning travel to Guatemala and visit markets, we look for Huipils that can't be worn again. These will be given a second life, and these women will be paid fairly for them. We don't go alone, we work alongside a company who lives in Guatemala and their main mission is to educate these women on fair wage, and entrepreneurship, to connect with conscious consumers and businesses that want to source ethically. This company has a long standing relationship with artisans, whom have been at the markets for 20+ years. They invest in these women's lives, and they educate us the consumer on what's ethical and what isn't. They are the heart of this mission, and I'm honored to know them.
We then take these Huipils, and other pieces to our leather artisan partner, who uses full grain leather... in it's truest form, with imperfections of lines, and creases that form into something magical. They then take the Huipil, and give it another life by creating one of a kind luxury huipil bags.
So when you see a piece you love.. don't hesitate, you will never see it again once it's purchased. No two are ever the same, they are previously worn and come with beautiful imperfections that we embrace and love! Those imperfections tell of a story, of history, of life.
Their Life - Their Story