The second interview of the day was with Paz Verge From Maya Kotan. Another great example of the ways in which the work of Mayan weaving women can be celebrated and taken forward and linked to modern day, successful business.
Paz spent many years working as a sociologist and so her whole ethos and core philosophy is to provide a stable, constant income for the Mayan women weavers.
She works with 9 weavers and also employs 4 people in her workshop which is just off the Main Street of San Cristobal. She has also recently opened a second store on the busy high street. We went to talk to her to find out more about her relationship with the weavers and how she manages the project.
“Right from the beginning the vision was to create something that would involve my own and also other women’s creativity, I was driven by beauty of textiles and the work and craftmanship it takes to produce them. I had been Involved in development projects with women for many years and had the need to do something that I could see would have a good impact and develop the lives of women in this area.
I am originally from Chile and the idea is go back to my county of birth and exchange experiences and link the work of so many women along continent.”
Paz has worked for many years as a sociologist and originally started maya Kotan in 2011 with the need to create links between the weaving families and their skills with a clear and fair business model. Although the journey hasn’t been smooth she is clearly doing really well and making a great difference to the women’s lifes.
“We understood from the beginning that having a regular income was important to them. I haven’t had time to measure the impact since we began but from what the women tell me this has been a dramatic change for them. By having continuous work they are managing to save and organise themselves better. We are talking about very poor communities here, where there is no healthcare and they have to pay for medicine when they get sick so they spend their money on their children, education and health.
Lots of husbands or men in family migrate to work and can disappear for months so the women have become the main breadwinners and need to have their own Security. They now have much more economic independence and autonomy.”
What I love about Maya Kotan is that the moment you walk in to the shop you can see Paz’s relationship with the women reflected in the exceptional quality and attention to detail in all their products. She manages her relationship with the weavers by buying the thread and then paying them per centremeter for their work. One of the big problems they realised on the way was that the coordinators of the group would not always distribute the work fairly to the weavers so one of the changes she has made is to distribute the work from her workshop which means she can take into consideration if the women are pregnant which means giving them smaller pieces or making sure the work is spread fairly. She explained the headaches involved with maintaining all the social work included and overcoming issues, such as thread price increases.
It was great to hear a different perspective on all these issues and see what a difference Paz is making to the lives of the weaving families while be successful at the same time.
Here is the link to her website : http://www.mayakotan.com.mx