My dad passed away when I was six. It was then when my love for fashion became real. I say real because it was then that I started to put all my emotions on paper. It started with dressing my dolls with my own designs. Back then I didn’t know I was designing, but it was my favorite game. My mom started taking my doodles to a seamstress and made them into her business outfits. I was so excited to have found my passion early in life and started planning my future to become the fashion designer I dreamed to be.
I moved to New York when I was seventeen to study fashion design. The city seemed to be the only place to succeed in the industry. I graduated and got a good job designing for a company in New York, but with time I felt like I was a loosing my essence as a designer. That passion and love that a designer should possess turned into something else, it was just a job to live off of. The focus turned to designing fashion that had to be in line with everyone else and soon forgetting that design is much more than that. In designing, we can tell a story, express feelings, and create change. That is what I now do in Guatemala with Maremaya. In Guatemala, I found the opportunity to bring fashion a step above. I focus much more on the art, the traditions behind the textiles, the power to create something handmade, and at the same time, ensure the well-being of the team of weavers and their families. Of course it's part of my job to keep up with trends and see what is happening in the fashion world, but is not all that I focus on.
Although most of the fashion brands are based in New York, most of their productions are made in sweatshops somewhere else. It is easy to loose the connection with the people producing the garments. I had no idea how the daily lives of these families were like, what they did to get to work, or where they slept and how they ate. Behind every piece of clothing there is a truth that we are unaware of and it is our responsibility to find out, as designer and consumers as well.
I remember being at my desk in New York asking the factories I worked with to deliver an embroidered garment in two days. Not knowing how they would get that done or the things they went through for that piece of clothing. It wasn’t just me, a lot of people in the fashion industry expect things to be fast and cheap, but there are consequences behind our requests. I traveled to India with the company I use to work with and that trip opened my eyes to how my demands were affecting people, the environment, and our world in general. That’s when I knew I needed a change and, in my case, that change wasn’t going to come sitting in my desk. So, I moved to Guatemala.
When I got to Guatemala I immediately felt a special bond with the artisans. I got to see the development of the textiles, work very close to them, and know their circumstances. Through our relationship, I can make sure that they are working from their homes, which allows them to have time to be with their families and continue to preserve their traditions. Often we drink coffee together, or perhaps a lunch, and they know where I live. It's a much more humane production. We work together and with a purpose. I’ve learned that quality work comes with time and that there is always a better, more ethical way, to produce items. Despite all the work that we have to do, designing this way has given me an inner peace that I had never experienced. I have found my true path and a significant more quality of life. Now, my focus is on moving forward on this path while passionately helping others along the way.
I invite you to experience my path on this blog and get to know the beautiful people of Maremaya at the same time.