Meet Maria Tujal, one of Mercado Global’s top partner artisans from the community of Patzún. Patzún is a mountain village in the department of Chimaltenango, where some of Mercado Global's most talented artisans live and work. Maria is 35 years old and has been a part of the Chipiacul cooperative since 2012. She is not only a hard worker and incredibly talented, but also a proud wife and mother of four.
Maria's strength as an artisan lies in her ability to produce high quality weaving samples. Fabric samples play a crucial role in the design process since they serve as strategy visuals for color and pattern combinations. Maria first made samples on her back strap loom for the Fall 2013 collection, starting development on these pieces almost a year before the products would hit the stores.
She has since gone on to master the foot loom, the only woman in her cooperative to do so. Traditionally, mostly men weave on foot looms, which are faster than back strap looms and can produce textiles with greater speed at a higher volume. However, these looms are more expensive and require a greater investment of capital, a barrier for many women in Guatemala.
Maria’s fellow artisans remark at her diligence, speed, and consistency. Her deft understanding of the foot loom is a valuable skill that she can pass on to her fellow artisans in her community as well as future generations of artisans. As a woman mastering this technique, she is also part of the growing number of Mercado Global artisans who are changing the status quo by utilizing techniques that are traditionally performed by men, like the use of foot looms and industrial sewing machines.
Mercado Global artisans also have access to microloans, made possible through our donor-funded microloan program, which can be used to purchase foot looms or industrial sewing machines. By facilitating access to this equipment, women like Maria are maximizing their earning potential and changing what it means to be a woman artisan in Guatemala.
By observing Maria’s work, it is clear that her keen precision and exceptional speed on the foot loom are the result of a practiced and finely tuned technique. Through Maria’s dedication and work ethic, she has instilled strong values in her four children to pursue their dreams. By continuing her work with Mercado Global, Maria plans to provide bright futures for her children and give them opportunities she never had.