Last week our founder Alyssa gave a seminar on working ethically in Guatemala at the new Selina hotel here in Panajachel. Topics covered included textile preservation, cultural appropriation and ethical business development. The entire talk was well over an hour. But, we narrowed it down for you to the highlights. Keep reading for a little insight on what was discussed at the event or watch Alyssa's IGTV video to hear for yourself!
Education is at the core of Hiptipico. Speaking at events like the one hosted at Selina allows us to share our story and teach others about the important issues we try to mitigate through our company. Our idea with Hiptipico is to foster an environment where the women weavers are not only proud of their pieces, but they also know their value and they start to be a part of a community that respects them.
For us, it’s not about selling bags. We consistently prioritize connecting with and empowering women to follow their passions in the form of business, and the rest follows. Approaching our work with indigenous communities through the lens of education and empowerment gives us the ability to leave a positive impact while preserving Maya culture, traditions and heritage.
While Guatemala is on the global market in terms of textile inspiration and fashion trends, the actual indigenous weavers rarely know their work has the power to influence. This being said, they also do not have the resources to make a thriving business for themselves. Looking ahead, the next step for getting them to be entrepreneurs on their own is strengthening the next generation of Guatemalans- weavers and non-weavers alike. For us at Hiptipico, our main goal is to encourage this next generation to be extremely proficient on their phones and computers, to finish school, and to recognize the importance of maintaining their culture and language.
Given that part of the Hiptipico team is from countries outside of Guatemala, we place a large emphasis on the input of our local indigenous employees. Our founder, Alyssa, doesn’t make decisions by herself without a native Guatemalan representing their own country and culture by her side. Allowing young indigenous women to have a say in where the future of Guatemala is going -especially in a fashion sense - is extremely important to us. Taking back control of an industry that has been appropriated and taken away from indigenous people is achieved by not only supporting but also employing locals in order to make the best decisions for their community.
All of this information can be generalized to brands across the globe. When looking at ethical brands, we as consumers can try to evaluate the positive and ethical impact they have on local communities. Some questions to keep in mind include:
Are they alone as foreigners working in a country or do they have local people by their side making decisions for themselves?
And, what kind of business model do they have? Seeing how the products are sourced and then what exactly goes back into the community is integral for a holistically ethical company.
Thank you for trusting us as a company and supporting the endlessly talented women that are at the core of our mission to maintain ethical and cultural and awareness.
If you are interested in learning more about cultural appropriation and textiles in Guatemala we highly suggest you allocate 8 minutes of your day to listen carefully! Head to @alyssaya IGTV to see clips from the talk.
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♡ See our female founder's daily posts featuring other ethical fashion brands and collaborations (@alyssaya).
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