Are you a lone ranger in your business or do you practice collaboration? Do you view others who provide the same services that you do as competition or do you collaborate? When you have an abundance mindset you realize that collaboration can grow everyone’s business.
Have you ever noticed that all the car dealers in a city group themselves on the same street? They understand that this geographic grouping brings out more customers and everyone wins.
Today I am excited to share with you the story of Trama Textiles. This coop is transforming the lives of its members and its community. The following is their story in their own words.
Trama Textiles is a 100% worker-owned women’s weaving cooperative. We work with over 400 women artisans, organised in 17 weaving groups, across 5 regions in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. We make high-quality textiles that offer a fair wage to our weavers, and offer weaving classes to teach students the beautiful art of Mayan weaving.
Trama was created in 1988 as a direct result of the Guatemalan civil war. The war had a devastating impact on indigenous communities in particular, and thousands of men from local communities were killed or disappeared. As well as being incredibly traumatic for the women of the communities to lose their fathers, brothers and sons, it also meant that many women were left without any means to support themselves or their families.
During this difficult time, the women of these communities came together, and decided to form the cooperative. In areas where work is hard to come by, and many people don’t speak Spanish, we thought we could use our skills as weavers to make a living. By creating the cooperative, we could sell our work ourselves, without having to use middlemen, and pay ourselves a fair wage for our work.
During a very difficult time, this new project gave us a sense of purpose. We came together to create designs, choose colours and work out how our coop would work. Together, with the support from the other women, we began to grow stronger and see hope for a better future.
Our cooperative is made up of 17 weaving groups, each with a Spanish-speaking representative, who makes sure the voices of the women in their group are heard within the organisation. We also have a leadership board, and vice-president and president, who meet regularly to discuss any issues and decide on the direction of the organisation. The cooperative also benefits from a team of international volunteers, who work for the director and vice-director of the organisation to support them with tasks such as managing social media and dealing with English-speaking clients.
Mayan weaving traditions are over 1,500 years old. Designs and techniques are passed down from grandmothers to mothers to daughters, and each village has its own unique style. Each of our artisans is a highly skilled weaver, working on complex designs that can take many months to complete.
Our weavers mainly live in traditional rural communities, and fit their weaving around their other responsibilities, like caring for their children, cooking and going to the market. Weaving for Trama means that our weavers can maintain their traditional lifestyle, while earning money to support themselves and their families.
All of our textiles are handwoven from 100% cotton, and we source all of our materials from Guatemalan suppliers. We use premier grade thread in all of our products, and all of our textiles are double-woven and pre-washed so they keep their shape and color.
You can take a look at our beautiful products on our Etsy store, knowing that any the money you spend goes direct to the artisan who made it. We also offer free shipping to the US and Canada – what could be better?
“Before Trama, the women in our communities didn’t have their own money and we had to ask for money from our husbands. With Trama, now we have our own money to pay for things like fruit and school supplies for our children. We feel proud to earn our own money, and use the skills we have as weavers to make a living. Even if we don’t speak Spanish, as many women in our communities don’t, we can earn a wage for ourselves. We also feel proud that people value our work and our Mayan culture, and we feel happy to share our Mayan heritage with the rest of the world.”
Quotes from our women artisans:
“Weaving is very important to me, not only because I can earn some money, but so we don´t lose our culture. We want our weaving to continue and our designs to survive.”
“As a widow, I have a lot of expenses I must meet and it´s very expensive to even feed my family. If I didn´t have the association giving me some work, I would have to sell my weavings cheaper to a middleman and I would get paid much less.”
For more information about our organization, see www.TramaTextiles.org or contact our Communications Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
How has collaboration benefited your business?
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