Artisan vs. One of a Kind
BEHIND THE ARTISAN COLLECTION
Our Artisan Collection is possibly are most important collections as it was created to encourage and support the art of weaving. This collection of newly woven fabric is made custom and created on a small-batch scale, ensuring attention to detail and quality of the highest standard. Commissioning the weaving and looming of these new fabrics is vital to the Guatemalan people, as it creates a sustainable form of income for our artisans. We work with 4 Fair Trade certified cooperatives and directly with several communities of independent weavers that prefer to work directly with us. Thank you for helping us keep this beautiful art form alive, and supporting the wellbeing of our beloved Guatemalan artisans!
THE BACKSTRAP LOOM
Backstrap looming dates back to the ancient Mayas and has been passed down through generations and generations of Guatemalan women. The women use this style of looming to create their beautifully vibrant colored textiles that they use to make huipils. The weaver starts with raw cotton, which they clean, dye, and spin into thread. The thread is then made into a warp which is placed on the loom. Then each artisan adds his or her own personality into the cloth by making uniquely intricate brocade and embroidery patterns out of the fabric. The backstrap method has changed very little over the centuries, and we hope that it will continue on for many centuries to come!
FOOT LOOMED FABRIC
A "faster" way of making the fabric we use for our product is made using a Foot Loom! For an experienced male weaver it takes ONE day to finish 5-6 yards and women a bit longer since they aren't physically as strong. A common design you may see on our fabric is called "Jaspe" and this means that they take the thread and hand tie sections of the thread off that are any where from 1-3 inches apart. The craftsman then dyes each individual section piece by piece and hangs the thread to dry. It is a similar technique to tie dying but on a micro scale! The weaver can then begin the process of threading their foot loom which works much like a bicycle. They alternate pedals with their feet and while threading the fabric back and forth! We are so thrilled that we are able to make custom Nena patterns and employ over 30 men and women to weave fabric for us!
BEHIND THE ONE OF A KIND COLLECTION
Our One of a Kind Collection consists of products constructed using curated vintage fabrics purchased from responsible Guatemalan market vendors. All of the fabrics seen in the One of a Kind Collection have lived a full life before being incorporated into your bag! These vintage fabrics were woven from memory by a Guatemalan artisan up to 10 years ago; each pattern distinctive of the region where the artisan resides.
We always select high quality pieces and pay fair premium prices for the fabrics that become the exterior of our signature bags and accessories. They are then laced with hand cut leather to make them more durable for your everyday use. Truly and completely one-of-a-kind, these bags are a masterpiece!
WE RECYCLE! Our bags are the end product of this intricate process of creating huipils that began hundreds of years ago. Yes, you literally took the shirt off someones back so take good care of it! Okay, I'm teasing but it really use to be some beautiful woman's shirt or huipil (see woman to the left). Maya families have transformed their traditional huipils and cortes to be the decorative exterior of our bags laced with hand cut leather to make them more durable for your everyday use. One could even go so far as to say these bags are indi-genius bags (for those of you with sense of humor) for their ability to combined an age old tradition for a fashion forward world.
Nena & Co. bags are uniquely handcrafted and capture the magic and depth of the Maya people. When you purchase our bags you're helping create jobs at home and also provide freedom from poverty for the beautiful, hardworking women of the Maya highlands. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
Women in Guatemala have woven the traje, a traditional Maya dress, for centuries. The top of the dress is called the huipil and the bottom skirt is called the corte. The art of weaving textiles for huipils and cortes has been used for generations and women still use it today! While the intricate brocade decor on the huipils vary slightly from village to village, the patterns and their meanings will always embody the classic Maya culture. The art of weaving trajes is an important component of the Guatemalan culture, and it provides a viable income for the artisans who are trying to provide for their beautiful families.