In a recent Forbes article, Sara Weinreb reports on the crisis facing women artisan entrepreneurs in Guatemala regarding the rise of “fast fashion” businesses in the U.S. This issue is explored in depth in a new documentary by Eco-Age, Fashionscapes: Artisans Guatemaya. The work of women artisans in Guatemala is slow and sustainable, which greatly contrasts the cheap and disposable practices of large corporations. Fast fashion giants produce clothing with an emphasis on quantity, as opposed to the small businesses of Guatemala that focus on quality and environmental health.
Of the 17 million residents of Guatemala, one million are artisans. The main source of income for this demographic, most of which consists of women and girls, is now at risk of becoming obsolete. Weinreb explains,
“It’s a multi-generational craft, in which girls learn weaving and dying, starting as young as eight years old, from their mothers. The artistry is inspired by nature and the season, and garments are dyed using local produce such as avocados. Each piece is made by hand and can take up to a month to complete, which is radically different from the current fast fashion model. Artisan fashion is slow and sustainable at its core.”
The lasting harmful effects of mass production on the livelihood of women artisans is not only prevalent on a global business scale, but also extends into the very communities in which these women work. Weinreb details, “Local residents are choosing to forgo artisan-made pieces for second-hand items that are imported into the nation due to their low cost.” Furthermore, the designers in the U.S. and Europe, that appropriate the work of Guatemalan women, do not employ or collaborate with them in order to create ethical and authentic products.
There are organizations focused on protecting and empowering the women artisans of Guatemala, such as PACUNAM and Nest. And of course, wegg® is dedicated to furthering the success and reach of women entrepreneurs everywhere. Learn more about how we can help you go global, here.