I’m going back to school

I have some exciting news to share:  I’ve decided to get my master’s in Sustainable Development.

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I’m excited and nervous for this next step.  Berry’s mostly just excited for the snow.

These are the two reactions I’ve been getting about the news:

  1. “That’s wonderful!”
  2. “What’s that?”

To all the encouraging people in my life, thank you.  I’ve been nervous about taking this step, but it will give me more tools to be able to work with artisan communities effectively.  After all, Kakaw Designs has always been a development-inspired social business.

And to those of you who have no idea what this Sustainable Development thing is, let me tell you.  It’s the study of development for countries, and how to merge economic, environmental, and social aspects.  How to find a common happy ground, for all three aspects of growth.  Needless to say, I’m interested in focusing on developing countries, as well as artisan communities, indigenous areas, and foreign aid / non-profit models (or rather, how to make these models more efficient).

I’m excited to get back into the academic world and delve into some of these questions that have been circling in my head.

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Sustainable Development for small villages

What does that mean for Kakaw Designs?

Don’t worry, I’m in the process of training people to take over production and logistics in Guatemala.  Some of the artisans will take on additional responsibilities, others will be continued by me online, and I have a great person lined up as the Production Manager.  <<More on that soon!>>  And we’ll continue fulfilling online orders from the US as we have been doing.  We’ll also continue to take custom-orders, which have been really fun.  So really, there’s nothing to worry about.

I’ll be gone for two years, mostly in Europe.  But I will be back in Guatemala for visits, and am working on a smooth transition to keep the business going as usual.  I really contemplated what the best thing to do was – to take a pause and refresh in two years, or try to keep the business steady during my absence.  And in the end, it just seemed like a waste to lose the momentum we’ve gained, and the idea is always to keep production going so that the artisans have work – that’s our mission, after all: supporting talented artisans and their traditions in Guatemala.

Exciting times are ahead!  Thank you for all your support.

XOXO,

Mari


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A favorite for scarf season

*** Discount code at the very bottom 😘***

We love all our products, but we’re so excited that this chilly season the top favorite has been the newest scarf addition, our Corte Wrap.  It’s beautiful and cozy, but more that that, we are including two different groups of artisans in its production – the weavers who prepare the naturally-dyed cotton thread, and the embroiderers who do all the amazing embroidery work, stitch by stitch ❤️

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Francisca with the naturally-dyed thread her cooperative prepares.  She liked the finished prototype!

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Embroidery master sisters at work!

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Stitch by stitch…

 

And the result is a super soft, cozy scarf ❤️

 

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Kelly from Cardamom Collective snatched one of our prototypes!

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Adrienne shows off her Corte Wrap AND her Quetzal Backpack 😆

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Rachel and Laura both got a hold of these beauties with red stripes… lucky them!

Want your own?  Use discount code SCARFLOVE for $20 off your own Corte Wrap just until January 25, 2017.

 

Facebook Live Discussion: Working with Artisans in Guatemala

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We’re so excited to be hosting a discussion on the challenges and rewards involved in the work we do here as social entrepreneurs in Guatemala.  Join us for an interactive live video discussion on Perhaps you need a little Guatemala tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17th at 5pm PST!

Together with the lovely boss ladies behind Stela 9, Luna Zorro, and Uxibal we will be answering questions and having a fun discussion sharing stories.  Hope to see you then!

Join the event on Facebook.

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Backpacking in Guatemala

I finished college at UC Davis, and took off as fast as I could.  I backpacked for a year, and then landed a job on the Galapagos Islands teaching little humans, and during my time off got to explore much of the islands and the mainland.  I squeezed in a trip to Japan and then to Australia before relocating to Guatemala, which has become my home since.  I counted once, I think I’ve lived in 10 countries throughout my life.  Something like that.

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Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific… Galápagos ❤️

But since I’ve grown roots in this beautiful Antigua, I hadn’t really done much “backpacking.”  Don’t get me wrong, I travel often, especially to meet with artisans, but this leisurely “traveling for the sake of traveling,” not so much.  And so I took a little vacation at the end of 2016, and had such an amazing time I visiting places that I hadn’t been to in a while:

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Laguna Chicabal, one of my favorite places.

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Hiking from Xela to Lake Atitlán with Quetzaltrekkers.  Photo: Abby Price (our awesome guide)

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It got pretty cold at night during the hike!

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The beautiful trail at Semuc Champey.  Photo: Leander Khil

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The water was lovely!  Photo: Leander Khil

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I missed the tropical rainforest.  Photo: Leander Khil

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The Ceiba Tree ❤️

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And, of course, Tikal.

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I had fun being a Wild Thing.

It was a good reminder: I love to travel.  (There’s even this ExOfficio video about how much I love to travel.)  I grew roots, and that’s great, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get out more just to “travel for the sake of traveling.”  Right?

2017 – I’m looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead.  Because I still get Wanderlust, and I think that’s just part of me forever.

 

XOXO,

Mari

Holiday Bundles with De La Gente

We’re so excited to team up with De La Gente to provide the best holiday bundles for coffee and tea lovers everywhere ☕️

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Gua-TEA-mala: Whether basking in the winter sunshine or relaxing by the fire, tea is the perfect accompaniment – Cascara Tea in particular. Enjoy a hot cup of tea prepared any way you like it, get inspired by the recipes in our free Cascara Recipe Book. Measure out heaping tablespoons of tea for each recipe with a hand-carved scoop made in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle and sip from a hand-crafted & painted mug produced by artisans at Lake Atitlán with a vintage tea-towel embellished by hand embroidery by women artisans in Sumpango. This is the perfect tea collection with artisanal products that will dress up any kitchen style.

Order yours now!