Sometimes in the past we would meet artisans who made beautiful handmade weavings or amazingly detailed embroideries but they do not have the resources to take these handmade pieces and make them into pillows and home décor that we could sell in our shop. They didn't own a sewing machine or even have access to reliable zippers and notions.
We needed a resource that could take these handmade textiles and turn them into pillows our customers could enjoy in their homes. Then, several years ago we met the women of UPAVIM in Guatemala City and we wondered if they could become our “workshop of sewers” to turn our handmade textiles into living room and bed pillows that feature quality construction, coordinating piping and working zippers.
UPAVIM, whose mission is to “empower women” in their community, is located in The Red Zone of Guatemala City. The Red Zone has the dubious distinction of being an area where the crime rate is so high that tourists are advised not to visit because it is just too dangerous. Usually, cab drivers will not even venture into the Red Zone.
"But we knew that to have a productive and strong relationship with UPAVIM, they needed to understand exactly how the pillows should be made,” said Mary Anne Wise of Cultural Cloth. “So, we put together kits that included pillow fronts, backs, piping and zippers.”
“And the next time we were in Guatemala, we took these kits to the UPAVIM Center where we spent several days with these incredibly talented women. We stepped these women through the process.”
“We stayed at UPAVIM, eating and sleeping in the Center, since there are no hotels or restaurants nearby. The women learned so quickly,” said Jody Slocum of Cultural Cloth. “It also gave us a chance to see first-hand how UPAVIM works with more than 75 women and their children to provide training, employment and healthcare. They even have a school for the kids.”
“UPAVIM is so important to the women it serves and we feel so lucky to have found this “workshop of sewers”. We are helping each other,” summarized Jody.