Mercado Global

Mercado_Global_002

When Mercado Global emailed to see if I would be interested in visiting the communities of their local artisans in Guatemala, I knew it would allow me to gain a greater knowledge as to what goes into their products. Opening yourself up to experiences like these means the world around you changes. Your association with products is affected by sentimental value but goes beyond sales and trends when you understand the craftsmanship that goes into a product: like when I watched how they painstakingly make CHANEL couture or viewed the tiny delicate details of Chopard’s high jewelry making. Once you peek at the process behind the curtain, you understand how important craftsmanship and expertise is.

These women are experts in the traditional Mayan weaving process, an age-old tradition passed down through generations. What Mercado Global helps them achieve is not only preservation of an ancient artistry, but a partnership that empowers women to break the cycle of poverty by helping them run their own independent business. This opportunity creates sustainable livelihoods for their families and can help turn around entire communities.

One woman I spoke with said her husband was in an accident and was unable to work. Being the only source of income, she had to find a way to support her family. Though the business model set up by Mercado Global, she was able to buy a loom and begin producing fabrics such as the ones you see here which are then purchased by Mercado Global. The artisans do not work exclusively with Mercado Global; once they own the loom they can sell their designs to a newly available international market they once had no access to. On her single income, this woman we spoke to was able to pay for all seven of her children to go to school. On average, these Mayan artisans make three times the national average wage of Guatemalans. These women are changing the culture by being business owners and major contributors to their local community, which gives them the power and tools to fight against major issues like female violence, malnutrition, and illiteracy. Mercado Global not only sets these women up for a viable future but also goes into the communities with programs to educate them on financial management, heath and wellness, and nutrition.

There is now a network of over 400 women artisans in over 40 cooperatives throughout the rural highlands of Guatemala. Below are images from the small town of Comolapa we visited, watching as the artisans worked in a weaving cooperative on floor looms, making fabric by hand that would ultimately become the perfect market tote or evening clutch… but this time, with a story of change. I love carrying mine around the city, feeling the fabric under my fingers and the spirit of these women inspiring me to take control of life while being an expert in my artistry.

Mercado_Global_003    Mercado_Global_005    Mercado_Global_007 Mercado_Global_008 Mercado_Global_009 Mercado_Global_010 Mercado_Global_011 Mercado_Global_012 Mercado_Global_013

Above, inspired by ancient Mayan weaving, the master weaver creates a signature black and white pattern Mercado Global calls Sol y Sombra and plays off the Mayan culture of emerging from darkness to light. 

Below, with one of the black and white totes outside Mercado Global‘s Guatemalan office in Panajachel.

Mercado_Global_014 Mercado_Global_018

Above, stacks of the fabric designs made by different Mayan artisans in communities around western Guatemala wait to be assembled into bags. 

Below, a 17 year old artisan makes a traditional Mayan floral weave on a backstrap loom to be created into a belt or top as we saw many of the local women wearing on our journey around the country. Using this weaving technique, artisans will create more intricate designs with, for example, birds in the pattern. They also use this style of weaving to make quick samples of patterns before committing to the time consuming set up of the floor loom as seen early in this story. 

Mercado_Global_015 Mercado_Global_016 Mercado_Global_017    Mercado_Global_019 Mercado_Global_020 Mercado_Global_021

Above~ rolls of indigo dyed fabrics wait to be created into handbags at the Mercardo Global office, such as the one Kelly is holding below.

Mercado_Global_022

More stories of the ancient art of weaving from around the world: 

Bali + Florence

This entry was posted in Fashion Reportage and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Snapshots from Guatemala

Guatemala_002

I love that moment in the plane when  you begin your final descent into a new country, that first glance down onto foreign soil. What are the colors? How is the light? What does the landscape look like? I’ll never forget watching the sunrise over the flat dusty plains as I touched down in Africa or seeing the Patagonian glaciers of Chile streaked in time. Looking at Guatemala from that little frame I was enchanted with the layers of volcanoes dancing along the horizon line of a setting sun.

Guatemala_007

It was just a weekend getaway, a short stop through Antigua, which was one of the most beautiful and romantic places I’ve ever seen. We didn’t have time to wander around but I will come back someday to photograph it and stay at the Meson Panza Verde which is heartbreakingly beautiful. We had a late dinner there on our last night in Guatemala in which I discovered its enchantment. From there we ventured around the lakeside town of Panajachel where the fashion accessory brand Mercado Global‘s design offices are located. The purpose of this trip was to discover the craftsmanship behind these artisanal bags. We spent a little time in Santiago Atitlan and in the hillside town of Santa Catarina Palapo where we slept in a dream villa.

I have many takeaways from Guatemala. The fruit is incredible. The people, so petite, are beautiful in their traditions they hold on to despite globalization. I loved comparing their dress to how the Peruvian women dress each in their specific way. The beautiful colors in their clothing are mimicked in the textiles of the market and lush nature landscape bursting with flowers in sherbet orange and hot fuchsia. As we wandered through the old colonial built towns there is the distinctive sound of women’s hands patting out corn tortillas, and I’ll never forget the way they tasted hot off the griddle. I loved how drivers would honk as a courtesy, a way to say thank you. Perhaps though, my favorite feature of this beautiful country are her volcanoes. It had not been since Bali that I found myself gazing upon such a scene. Every day is a new view, sometimes with smoke billowing out a top, sometimes in silhouette to a setting sun. I found them a constant reminder that the earth is alive beneath our feet and for the mere fact that I am standing in Guatemala, I realize I am alive too.

Guatemala_003 Guatemala_004 (more…)

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Old School Photography

Holiday_Card_2015_002

Each year, these prints are my little labor of love. This year’s holiday card began almost one year ago, at the beginning of 2015. While shooting a project for Tiffany & Co., we had the opportunity to rent a private helicopter to get aerial shots of Manhattan. I learned two things from that early winter morning ride: 1. I am deathly afraid of helicopters and 2. I wanted this year’s holiday card to be a print of my great love, New York City. Looking down on her from this birds eye view gave me a new visual sense of the layers of history in this city from which we build our own futures. I understood her in a new way and that’s what I wanted to capture.

Considering there is not enough Xanax in the world to get me in a helicopter again, I had to find a new strategy for shooting at this high but intimate angle. Though I love the views from the obvious choices—Empire State Building and Top of the Rock—they didn’t give me the towering sense I was seeking. From the tops of those iconic buildings, the city is dwarfed and dense, slightly out of reach. As luck would have it, our friends from The New Potato were hosting a party with Riviera Events on the 68th floor of the newly completed Four World Trade Center. It’s one of those moments in life where everything falls into place, as if designed by destiny. Here we are in the Financial District, where we work, standing in a building that is part of the present, looking down on the past. It was just what I wanted.

It was an incredibly difficult shot to take. Using a Linhof 4×5 film field camera, the cityscape was not bright enough to register on the ground glass where you do your framing and focus check. Only a few faint street lights were visible for me to use as a rough guide but for the most part I was shooting blind. This also applies to metering: I had no way of knowing if I would be right on the money or not, so I just applied what I knew about the sensitivity of film to light and my experience with it the past 19 years. The image that ultimately made the final print was a 5 minute exposure on Ilford Delta 400ISO film.

Holiday_Card_2015_003

After the image was captured, we packed up and headed to my favorite darkroom in Boston for printing (which made for a great 24 hour Snapchat story!)

Holiday_Card_2015_004 Holiday_Card_2015_005 (more…)

This entry was posted in Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Algodon Wine Estate

Algodon_Wine_Estate_02 When you live in one of the biggest cities in the world, sometimes the only true escape from that life is heading to the country. As much as I loved the culture of Buenos Aires, I was happy to find myself in Argentina’s wine region at a new and beautiful estate called Algodon. Having just visited the fields of Dom Pérignon during harvest, it was a lovely contrast to see a vineyard in spring, the first buds of the season reaching out of the bark in perfect rows. I spent the first afternoon quietly swinging on my porch hammock, watching the light dance in the trees and feeling the cool spring breeze on my face. The quiet was an escape I had been longing for, and being surrounded by spring made me feel ready for a creative rebirth.

Algodon in Spanish means cotton. The estate was named after the Cotton Club in New York City for its sophistication, elegance, and distinction—and the club lifestyle certainly made its way here. You can play golf, ride bikes, play tennis, go horseback riding, have a massage, or enjoy wine tastings throughout the day. Though the main farm house was built in the 1920s, the property did not become a winery until 2002, with the first bottles of wine ready in 2005.

The original La Casona, or villa, has three petite rooms with original wood floors, fireplaces, and French doors opening to a wraparound porch. So charming and romantic! I loved the simplicity of the room, which quieted my mind and complimented the natural beauty waiting just outside. More recently, a second villa was built in a similar style with larger suites, stove-pipe fireplaces and a stunning main room wrapped in window light.

One of the highlights from Algodon was of course the winemaker’s Mauro Nosenzo’s tour through the vineyard and winery. They produce everything from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and my favorite, “Pima”, which is the star wine of the property, aged 24 months in French oak barrels. This special blend is named after the finest cotton in the world, produced in Peru and known world-wide as the smoothest variety. I loved it so much I bought a case and I look forward to the warm memories of the winemaker filling my glass straight from the barrel on this peaceful spring day.

After our tours, a tasting, and a beautiful lunch at the property’s restaurant in front of a roaring fire, we set out for the rest of the afternoon to explore the Argentinean countryside on horseback. I love horseback riding in South America, it compliments my romantic sensibilities and gives you a greater connection to the land, to the power of nature that defines it. For a few hours I galloped through the rows of vineyards, around the apricot orchard and through the olive trees, over the streams until I was out in the wild countryside gazing upon an endless horizon of wildflowers dancing below a purple mountain sky. It was heaven on earth….

Algodon_Wine_Estate_03 Algodon_Wine_Estate_04 Algodon_Wine_Estate_21 (more…)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.