In 2014, I was approached by two young street vendors on the main street in Panajachel. With kind eyes and a soft demeanor, they asked me to browse their handmade stationary. Having lived in Guatemala for over 3 years at this point, I was already familiar with the products the street vendors offered, which often was stationary alongside other touristy souvenirs. However, I could not resist these two faces.
While sifting through these greeting cards, I asked them some questions about their family, their town and their school. All of a sudden, I came across a extremely unique card, a design I had never seen before. I pulled it aside - a beautiful thick embroidery with an intricate floral pattern and asked if they had any more similar.
They exclaimed, my mom has more in the house! We can bring some tomorrow! And I replied asking if their mom was the one who created these and if I could possibly give her a call. They said definitively, JUST COME TO OUR HOUSE!
I decided to give their mom a call and ask permission before going over. She replied with an expression just like her children, JUST COME TO OUR HOUSE!
A few days later, I ventured in the back of a local pickup truck, 25 minutes up the mountain to Santa Catarina Palopó. In the town square, the two children were patiently waiting to bring me to their home. Francisca and Salvador walked with me through the back allies of the village to their home. At their house, I was greeted by their mother Teresa, her husband Andres and her 5 other children. In total, Teresa has 8 children but the eldest son was the only one not home that afternoon.
I spent the day learning about the family, appreciating Teresa's craftsmanship and discussing options for the future. At that time, I was not sure exactly what the future held. But I knew I was going to my part to try and share Teresa's beautiful story with the world and help provide her family with a steady source of income.
(Alyssa and Teresa 2015)
A few weeks later, I began working with the Hiptipico team to put together an Artisan Spotlight on Teresa, take product photos and share her story on our blog. We had a few images from my first visit, but scheduled a time to go back and get more content to match their story. During this follow up visit, it was apparent the type of mother Teresa was and the care she put into both her family and her craft. All 7 children were all well taken care of, happy, healthy and energetic. Her loom was always in process with traditional embroidery from her village, and her door was always open.
(Teresa, Lisa, Francesca, Lupe, Alyssa 2016)
Over the past 4 years, our relationship has grown stronger and more profound. Teresa's children do not have to sell their greeting cards in the street any more, as we have helped provide them with a steady source income through our Hiptipico purchases (although, when they have free time, the older children sometimes still sell on the street. But now more out of fun, than necessity).
We have also celebrated many milestones together, with one of our favorite memories being a pizza party at our office. Also, when the children are in Panajachel, they stop by the coffee shop to say hi and meet us for a chocolate milk. And now, every single Hiptipico order, no matter what size is packaged with a beautiful handmade greeting card, crafted by Teresa. Meaning, no matter what, Teresa will always have consistent Hiptipico sales each month.
(Hiptipico Party 2017)
Teresa's kindness led her to become one of the main home visits during our sourcing trips. She enjoys teaching weaving and showing the entire process from thread to loom to product with textile enthusiasts. And our visitors always mention Teresa as their favorite part of the Hiptipico sourcing trip package.
(2018 Sourcing Trip)
We are so honored to have this long history with Teresa and appreciative of her family for trusting us. We are always looking towards the future to build upon our relationship and address needs as they approach. Starting July 1, 2018 Teresa's oldest daughter Lisa will become a full-time employee at Hiptipico. As a social enterprise, we initiated as an avenue to provide steady income to female artisans with a longterm goal of becoming obsolete. Meaning, the next generation can take on the role of Hiptipico, learning photography, website design, building relationships, and hosting sourcing trips. Lisa is the future of Guatemala and we feel a deep privilege for having her be a part of our team and are certain she will be an innovative leader in her community.
To support Teresa and her family directly, shop her collection or sign up to travel and meet her in person!
Scroll below to see more images from our long history with Teresa and Family!