Laura Spillari, owner and founder of Xibalba Joyas, is one of the most positive, collaborative, and design-filled people in town. It has been an absolute pleasure to have our products included in her gorgeous storefront at the center of town. Unfortunately, the store is shut down at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions. That’s why we took this opportunity to showcase our products together digitally. Find our combos featuring one Kakaw Designs item and one Xibalba Joyas item together in our One of a Kinds page starting tomorrow, Sunday, April 5th.
Naturally, I (Mari) asked her to share a little bit so that you can get to know her and her jewelry designs. The following questions were answered by Laura herself:
1. You have one of the most beautiful stores around town. Can you tell us when you started Xibalba, and the inspiration behind your brand and store?
Thank you so much!
Xibalba was born in 2012. The idea was to recover the cultural value of jade and present it through design-oriented jewelry. Guatemala is a country where ancestral knowledge exists, materials and handwork come together to maintain our cultural legacy alive.
We started in a petit and cozy space and a couple of years ago, we moved to our current location, a beautiful colonial house in the center of Antigua. We couldn’t be more in love with the location! Now, we not only create jewelry but we have partnered with several artisans and designers who present other products such as textiles, leather goods, decor objects, and many other interesting little things.
The team consists of 5 collaborators and we contribute to around 125 artisans directly or indirectly in different regions of Guatemala.
2. Do you think you have always been an artist, since you were little? When do you think you came to realize this?
I’ve always considered myself a creative person. I grew up in a house where everything was made or prepared by us, whether it was clothing, planting, or plumbing… so I kinda learned how things could “be done.”
I was surrounded by elements such as textiles, ceramics, basket weaving, among other handmade traditions. Walking on cobble stones and going to Mayan sites on vacations… this has been with no doubt a part of my identity and has provided great inspiration for what I do.
3. One of the things I love about your store is the incorporation of innovative designs on traditional materials, like jade and silver. Can you share a little bit about traditional use of those materials, historically-speaking?
Guatemala has a unique variety of jade. It is formed here because of the geographical location and the geological history.
For the Maya, our ancestors, jade was the most valuable material. They thought of it as a gift left here for us, which brought all the strength from underneath the earth and was able to take our thoughts and prayers to heaven. Jade was carved by master artisans who made from large stelas to miniature mosaic masks, among other incredible ornaments.
4. We’ve talked about doing an online collaboration before, but we finally decided to go through with it now because of the COVID-19 restrictions in Guatemala. What are the effects for your business, and what can people do to support you and other small businesses working with artisans right now in Guatemala?
Indeed it is a situation that has affected us all. However, we are confident that together we will rise!
It has been difficult to find new paths for our partner artisans since our business depends on tourism completely. Our number one priority is to generate an income for our artisan partners, so they can support their families.
The best way to help is just by being conscientious. Learn about what you buy, where you shop, support handmade products with a value chain behind them.
Today, we make a call to a world wide community: let’s all find ways to help each other, from our homes… by providing opportunities however possible.