TRAMA Textiles is a 100% worker-owned women’s weaving cooperative in Guatemala. We produce high-quality clothes, accessories and homeware, using traditional Mayan weaving techniques, and offer weaving classes to teach people the ancient art of Mayan weaving.
TRAMA provides work for over 400 women and their families, across five regions in Guatemala’s Western highlands. We pay the women up front and in full for their work, and they are guaranteed a fair wage for what they produce. This means women in our communities can earn an income to support themselves and their families, in a region where paid work is hard to find.
“As a widow, I have a lot of expenses I must meet and it´s very expensive to even feed my family. If I didn’t have the association giving me some work, I would have to sell my weavings cheaper to a middleman and I would get paid much less.”
“Without the association, my children would have died of starvation.”
In 1988, after some of the most devastating years of Guatemala´s civil war, our association was formed. At the beginning our name was CENAT (Centro Nacional de Artesania Textile), but since then we have changed our name to ASOTRAMA (Asociación Trama) and finally just TRAMA Textiles. The civil war was a time when most of the men from our communities: our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sons, disappeared.
“My children are young and it´s hard to make ends meet. I lost my father and husband in the war. Now it’s only me who supports my nine children.”
During this difficult time, we came together in our communities, and decided to use our skills as weavers to support ourselves and our families, and formed the cooperative. The cooperative gave us a sense of purpose, and we started to work together to create new designs, choose colors, and dye and weave our textiles. Little by little, we began to grow stronger and started to look towards a better future.
“When the association started, it was a really nice thing. As we got busy, the women began to forget about the war… Little by little, things started to change.”
Today, our artisans proudly weave our products, providing themselves with a sustainable income, and to carry on the ancient textile art of Mayan weaving through an organization that fights for the dignity, well-being, and ethnic expression of its associates. Through TRAMA the continuity of our traditions that have sustained our cultures and communities for over 1,500 years are guaranteed.