Lorena Figueroa is nervous. She is traveling to New York City to exhibit in the upcoming Artisan Resource show with the hope to make important connections with American retailers. On display will be her finely crafted home decor items all made in Guatemala. Among the many products that will be featured will be her new Lorenza Filati collection that includes hand-woven and embroidered pillows, napkin rings, table runners, kitchen towels, and much more.
She explains, "A great number of these products merge vintage fabrics from the indigenous wardrobe with elaborate modern designs, and display in a wide variety of textures and colors. The result is an original and dynamic collection for the home, while everything helps creates opportunities for artisans throughout the country. I see Artisan Resource as the perfect platform to launch my new line as they carefully select both exhibitors and buyers.”
Lorena currently works with artisan groups throughout Chimaltenango, Santiago Atitlán, as well as in Guatemala City. All products are entirely handmade and many of her designs incorporate the use of the back-strap loom. “These looms are an important part of the culture and the history of Guatemala. The weaver, usually a woman, sits on the ground leaning back and uses body weight to create tension on the loom. Either simple or complex patterns can be woven, although the width is limited to width twenty-four inches or less. This technique is important to preserve as it has connected ancient Guatemalan textiles with Mayan culture for centuries. Over generations, weavers have used back strap weavings to dress their families. I particularly love anything with embroidered detail … Maybe this explains my love for the huipil, which is the most exquisite piece of a Mayan women´s dress. These ´one-of-a-kind´ blouses narrate stories with their use of embroidered flowers, animals, birds, and other motifs."
She is close to all of the women whom she employs. "The female artisans who embroider and bead my pieces grew up with me. We have known one another since we were young girls. All textiles are woven on standing floor looms, and are produced by a small family business. The men create the wide textiles and the women create the beautiful trims."
What Lorena enjoys most is her time spent visiting the artisans. "I love having a day to myself where I can go and hang out with them. It is most gratifying to always see them smiling. They constantly teach me life lessons and remind me to appreciate what I have. Last week, I met with a woman who collects all of the completed huípiles and she is always in a good mood and a very sweet person. We started talking, and a few minutes later she told me that she was about to leave her husband because of his drinking problem. She said that she had been dealing with this for the past year. I was shocked because I never imagined that she was going through such rough times. Her attitude is always so sweet and she always has a smile on her face. As I drove home, her story was clear in the center of my thoughts. It reminded me that I have very little reason to complain about anything! For me, these artisans constantly create perspective."
From August 18-20, George Little Management will be presenting its semi-annual edition of Artisan Resource. This one-of-a-kind market is aligned with NEW YORK NOW, and is located at Manhattan's Pier 94. Artisan Resource serves as a one-stop venue for American- based volume importers, direct import retailers, and wholesalers. Organizations and companies from 18 countries around the globe have already confirmed their participation. Their debut last August 2012 proved to be a successful. A positive turnout next month is anticipated as the demand for artisanal and handmade products in the United States is on the rise.
In addition to all its business activities, Lorenza Filati
has partnered with the Guatemalan Ministry of the Economy's Zero Hunger Project, which has been specifically designed to support rural artisan communities. For more information, please visit www.lorenzafilati.com.