Mother of a little boy called Rodrigo and a baby called Catalina, I trained as a lawyer and worked as a key account manager in Madrid until five years ago, when my husband’s job brought us to Guatemala, the land of eternal Spring. We fell in love with the country immediately, with its people, the landscapes, the culture and the history… So we began travelling around, eager to discover every corner of this wonderful country. One of the things that fascinated me the most on those first few trips was the clothing worn by the women in each of the villages we visited. Every dress was different, and very colourful. We discovered that the women wove the fabrics – their huipils (blouses) and cortes (skirts) – themselves by hand and also that they designed them to include figures that depicted their Mayan beliefs. Every single one seemed magical and unique! I did some research and began to learn about the meaning of the symbols and the history behind each huipil. I quickly decided that I wanted to try and share this rich culture with the world. And that was the day that My Nawal was born.
ABOUT MY NAWAL
My Nawal was born from the desire to transform all of these beautiful fabrics, which indigenous women and men weave by hand, into unique, unusual, modern bags with a bohemian feel…It was born out of the desire to learn more about these fabrics and let the world fall in love with them. It was born out of a dream of wanting to be able to help the local people in some way to improve their quality of life, collaborating with them to produce new and original products that retain their traditions and customs, and at the same time providing them with a sustainable income.
Why My Nawal? One of my favourite huipils, which I came across soon after arriving in Guatemala, comes from the town of Nahualá, in the department of Sololá in the west of the country. After doing some research, I discovered that the name of the town comes from the term “nahual” or “nawal”, which, according to Mayan beliefs, means the spirit that accompanies each individual from birth. It is typically expressed in the form of an animal and its main function is to protect each person to allow them to perform their mission on the earth. All of us have a “nawal” depending on the day we were born. Mine is the Hummingbird (or Colibrí). If you want to find out yours, click on the link below:
Discover your Nawal
HOW WE MAKE OUR BAGS
The My Nawal workshops are all located in villages in Guatemala. We work with numerous local craftsmen and women who are responsible for bringing our designs to life.
I want to talk you through our bag making process so that you can get a feel for the magical world that surrounds the huipils and the craftsmen, as well as for the love we have for everything we make by hand.
Making the huipil
All of our bags are made with fabrics that are hand woven by indigenous women from different towns. For most of the bags we use huipils, which are the blouses worn by the women, but we sometimes also use cortes (skirts), sashes (belts that the women use to secure their skirts), pompoms, which are used to decorate the bands they wear on their heads, carpets woven by hand, palm…Every day we incorporate new materials into the collection and work with our craftsmen to create unique pieces. That is one of the things that I most love about my work here – discovering, creating and designing new ideas as a team. Seeing that something that seems really complex at the beginning, ends up becoming something very simple.
The huipils are made on backstrap looms. They are woven in three sections and then sown together to create a complete huipil. It can take up to three months of careful work to make each huipil. And each huipil contains symbols and figures that reflect the ancestral legends and beliefs of the Mayan people.
We select each huipil individually to suit the design and leather of each bag
We select the huipils that we like the most and we adapt them to suit each design. At the same time, we decide which type of leather best enhances each huipil’s colours and shapes. In this way, each bag is unique, and so it is almost impossible for us to produce two identical products. So if you see one you like, you should buy it! That’s our advice!
We work with several women’s cooperatives.
Pompons, sashes, carpets, beading…we feel very privileged to be learning about the craftsmen and women’s skills and to be collaborating with them to develop new ways of working. But, above all, what we love the most is generating work to help the crafts-people and their families enjoy a better quality of life.
Guatemala is a country with a high rate of poverty. Everyday we seek to become more involved with our local communities, helping with training and working with those most in need. It is not always easy, but it is one of the most important aspects of our work at My Nawal, and is something we feel very passionate about.