Yolanda and Antonia Panjoj
Hand-woven accessories in Central America
"We take turns to work and tend to the chores at home. When mom is weaving I clean, cook, and feed our animals. And when I'm weaving she takes care of everything.""We're pleased to introduce ourselves as a couple of Guatemalan women. I'm Yolanda, and Antonia is my mother. Mom grew up in a very loving family though of low economic means. She hardly speaks Spanish – just enough to read and write.
"She learned to weave on the back strap loom at a very young age, her mother taught her. She was taught to weave because in our family – as well as in our community – all the women must learn to make their own clothes. That's why my mother taught me too.
"Mother is so sweet and responsible that she is well loved in our community. She was able to provide for me thanks to her weaving skills, and she was also able to put me through school.
"We joined a local weaving association which provided us with the push we needed to realize we could get far selling our weaves. We also learned there are people out there who truly appreciate our art.
"For some time now we started pondering about working for ourselves in order to have the freedom to create and work on our own designs. And Novica is a good place to start – they have supported us and assisted us ever since we started on this journey.
"Being independent artisans is quite a challenge since we need to promote ourselves, leave our village in order to sell, and be responsible for timely deliveries.
"Now that we're working on our own we've had to learn to organize ourselves. We take turns to work and tend to the chores at home. When mom is weaving I clean, cook, and feed our animals. And when I'm weaving she takes care of everything. It's a laborious job that requires a great deal of concentration, so we support each other to ensure we create high quality work.
"Our dream is for our venture to grow so that we can offer work to other women in our community and offer them a fair salary. We also want to teach them how to measure properly, create good quality work and consider customer satisfaction.
"We enjoy doing what we do: weaving is part of our lives and we want to share our art with the world."